Last edited 11 Apr 2017

Green rating systems

The built environment has both direct and indirect environmental impacts. As a result, a large number of 'green' rating systems have been established to help mitigate these impacts through the encouragement, measurement and recognition of sustainability performance.

BRE’s rating system, BREEAM, was the UK’s first green rating system, launched in the 1990s, followed by the US’ Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system in 2000. It is now thought that there are around 600 green certification systems worldwide.

Rating systems measure relative levels of compliance or performance with against goals and requirements to create projects that are environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently throughout the project lifecycle.

The benefits of using a green rating system include:

  • Environmental aspirations can be set.
  • Clear goals can be worked towards.
  • Environmental performance can be verified.
  • Environmental performance can be demonstrated to third parties.
  • Improvement can be measured and demonstrated.
  • Green education can be facilitated and encouraged.
  • Positive marketing can be generated.

Some of the most commonly-used green rating systems include the following:

BUILDING RATING OR CERTIFICATION SYSTEM TYPE OF STANDARD OR CERTIFICATION MANAGING ORGANISATION ISSUES/AREAS OF FOCUS
BCA Green Mark Scheme (Singapore) Benchmarking scheme that aims to achieve a sustainable built environment by incorporating best practices in environmental design and construction, and the adoption of green building technologies. Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Rates buildings according to five key criteria:
  • Energy efficiency.
  • Water efficiency.
  • Environmental protection.
  • Indoor environmental quality.
  • Other green and innovative features that contribute to better building performance.
BREEAM (UK) Certification system is a multi-tiered process with pre-assessment, third-party consultant guidance through an assessment organisation for:
  • New construction.
  • Communities.
  • In-use buildings.
  • Eco-homes.
BRE Global Assessment uses recognized measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks in:
CASBEE (Japan) Building assessment tools for
  • Pre-design.
  • New construction.
  • Existing building.
  • Renovation.
JSBC (Japan Sustainable Building Consortium) and affiliated sub-committees Assessment areas include:
  • Energy efficiency.
  • Resource efficiency.
  • Local environment.
  • Indoor environment.
CEEQUAL Delivering improved specification, design and construction of civil engineering works, providing an evidence-based sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme. BRE Global Stages:
Code for Sustainable Homes A method for assessing and certifying the sustainable design and construction of new homes. BRE It measures sustainability against nine categories:
EDGE A universal standard and a certification system for residential and commercial structures. International Finance Corporation (IFC). Assessment areas include:
Energy Star (USA) Government certification using a benchmarking method. U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE. Building energy and water use.
Green Globes (USA) Green building guidance and assessment program for:
  • Existing buildings.
  • New construction.
Green Building Initiative in the U.S.BOMA Canada. Environmental assessment areas to earn credits in:
  • Energy.
  • Indoor environment.
  • Site.
  • Water.
  • Resources.
  • Emissions.
  • Project/environmental management.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) (USA) Green building rating and certification system through independent third-party verification for:
  • New Construction (NC).
  • Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance (EB O&M).
  • Commercial Interiors (CI).
  • Core & Shell (CS).
  • Schools (SCH).
  • Retail.
  • Healthcare (HC).
  • Homes.
  • Neighborhood Development (ND).
U.S. Green Building Council Performance in:
  • Sustainable sites.
  • Water efficiency.
  • Energy & atmosphere.
  • Materials & resources.
  • Indoor environmental quality.
  • Locations & linkages.
  • Awareness & education.
  • Innovation in design.
  • Regional priority through a set of prerequisites and credits.
Living Building Challenge (USA) Performance-based standard, and certification program for:
  • Landscape and infrastructure projects.
  • Partial renovations and complete building renewals.
  • New building construction.
  • Neighborhood, campus and community design.
International Living Future Institute Performance areas include:
Passivhaus An energy performance standard for dwellings, commercial, industrial and public buildings. Passivhaus-Institut The Passivhaus standard can be achieved by measures including:
Pearl Rating System for Estidama (UAE) Green building rating system for:
  • Community.
  • Buildings.
  • Villas.
  • Temporary villas and Buildings.
Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council Assessment of performance in:
  • Integrated development process.
  • Natural systems.
  • Livable communities.
  • Precious water.
  • Resourceful energy.
  • Stewarding materials.
  • Innovating practice.
Ska Rating Environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic fit outs. Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors The Ska assessment process is broken into three stages:
WELL Building Standard (USA) Performance based standard and certification program for
  • New and existing buildings.
  • New and existing interiors.
  • Core and shell retail.
  • Education facilities.
  • Restaurant
  • Commercial kitchen.
  • Multi-family residential.
Administered by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI) Measures attributes of buildings that impact occupant health by looking at seven factors: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, mind.


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