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April 3

Top Green Building Standards: A Guide For Green Building Professionals

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ECOSYSTEM WHERE CIVIL CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS DEVELOP FOR SUSTAINABILITY

OUR MISSION IS TO CULTIVATE THE NEXT GENERATION OF SUSTAINABLE LEADERS THROUGH EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, AND TOOLS

The world has become more environmentally conscious in recent years, and the construction industry is no exception. Green building standards are becoming increasingly popular in construction projects to reduce the environmental impact of buildings.

This article will explore the highest green building standards that architects, interior designers, and construction companies should consider when planning sustainable buildings.

Introduction

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; it has become necessary for our planet’s future. Buildings consume significant energy and resources, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Adopting green building standards can significantly reduce the environmental impact of buildings. Architects, interior designers, and construction companies can contribute to a better, more sustainable future by creating sustainable buildings.

Green Building Standards #1: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building standards globally. Developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), it provides a framework for building design, construction, and operation that focuses on sustainability.

LEED certification requires a rigorous evaluation process, with different levels of certification, ranging from Certified to Platinum, based on the building’s environmental impact.

LEED certification evaluates a building’s environmental impact in the following categories:

  1. Sustainable sites
  2. Water efficiency
  3. Energy and atmosphere
  4. Materials and resources
  5. Indoor environmental quality
  6. Innovation and design

Sustainable Sites: This category evaluates the location of the building, the transportation options available, and the use of the site’s natural resources. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be located in a sustainable area readily accessible by public transportation, have a reduced impact on the site’s natural resources, and promote biodiversity.

Water Efficiency: This category evaluates the building’s water usage, both indoors and outdoors. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have efficient plumbing fixtures, use recycled water, and promote water conservation.

Energy and Atmosphere: This category evaluates the building’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be energy-efficient, use renewable energy sources, and have a reduced impact on the atmosphere.

Materials and Resources: This category evaluates the building’s materials and resources usage, including the use of sustainable materials, the reduction of waste, and the use of recycled materials. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use sustainable materials, promote recycling and reuse, and minimize waste.

Indoor Environmental Quality: This category evaluates the building’s indoor environment quality, including air quality, thermal comfort, and lighting. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have good air quality, promote natural lighting, and provide a comfortable indoor environment.

Innovation and Design: This category evaluates the building’s innovative design and sustainable strategies that go beyond the other categories. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use new and innovative sustainable strategies that reduce its environmental impact.

Green Building Standards #2: WELL Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard focuses on the health and well-being of building occupants. Developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), it provides guidelines for building design, construction, and operation, focusing on the occupant’s health and well-being.

The WELL certification process evaluates factors such as air and water quality, lighting, and thermal comfort.

The WELL Building Standard focuses on seven categories of building performance:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nourishment
  4. Light
  5. Fitness
  6. Comfort
  7. Mind

Air: This category evaluates the building’s indoor air quality, including ventilation and filtration systems. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have good ventilation and filtration systems that provide clean and healthy indoor air.

Water: This category evaluates the building’s water quality, including using clean and safe water. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have clean, safe water easily accessible to all occupants.

Nourishment: This category evaluates the availability of healthy food options in the building, including the presence of a kitchen and healthy food choices. The building must provide healthy food options and promote healthy eating habits to achieve a high score in this category.

Light: This category evaluates the building’s lighting systems, including natural and artificial lighting. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide good natural lighting and promote energy-efficient lighting systems.

Fitness: This category evaluates the availability of physical activity options in the building, including fitness centers and other physical activity spaces. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide opportunities for physical activity and promote an active lifestyle.

Comfort: This category evaluates the building’s thermal, acoustic, and ergonomic comfort. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide a comfortable indoor environment conducive to productivity and well-being.

Mind: This category evaluates the building’s impact on occupants’ mental health, including biophilic design elements, stress reduction strategies, and other wellness initiatives. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must promote mental wellness and provide stress reduction and relaxation strategies.

Green Building Standards #3: Passive House

The Passive House standard focuses on creating energy-efficient buildings that rely on natural sources. Developed in Germany, it provides guidelines for designing buildings that reduce energy consumption while maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.

The Passive House standard requires airtight building envelopes, high-quality insulation, and energy-efficient ventilation systems.

Passive House certification evaluates the building’s performance in the following categories:

  1. Energy demand
  2. Comfort
  3. Indoor air quality
  4. Moisture protection

Energy demand: This category evaluates the building’s energy consumption, including heating, cooling, and electricity. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use passive solar design principles, have an airtight building envelope, and use high-quality insulation.

Comfort: This category evaluates the building’s thermal comfort, including temperature and humidity. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must maintain a comfortable indoor environment conducive to productivity and well-being.

Indoor air quality: This category evaluates the building’s indoor air quality, including ventilation and filtration systems. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have good indoor air quality, free from pollutants and other harmful substances.

Moisture protection: This category evaluates the building’s ability to protect against moisture damage using moisture-resistant materials and building techniques. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have good moisture protection that prevents damage and promotes durability.

Green Building Standards #4: Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is a green building standard that goes beyond sustainability, focusing on regenerative design. Developed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), it aims to create self-sufficient buildings and give back to the environment.

The Living Building Challenge certification process evaluates energy and water consumption, materials used, and the building’s environmental impact.

The Living Building Challenge evaluates the building’s performance in the following categories:

  1. Place
  2. Water
  3. Energy
  4. Health and Happiness
  5. Materials
  6. Equity
  7. Beauty

Place: This category evaluates the building’s relationship with the surrounding environment, including its impact on the site and the community. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be located in a sustainable location that promotes biodiversity and protects natural resources.

Water: This category evaluates the building’s water usage, including its impact on water resources and the surrounding ecosystem. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use water efficiently, promote water conservation, and minimize its impact on water resources.

Energy: This category evaluates the building’s energy usage, including its impact on the climate and the environment. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be energy-efficient, use renewable energy sources, and have a net-zero energy consumption.

Health and Happiness: This category evaluates the building’s impact on occupant health and well-being, including its indoor environment quality, access to nature, and social interactions. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must promote occupant health and well-being, provide access to nature, and promote social interactions.

Materials: This category evaluates the building’s materials usage, including the use of sustainable materials, the reduction of waste, and the use of recycled materials. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use sustainable materials, promote recycling and reuse, and minimize waste.

Equity: This category evaluates the building’s impact on social equity and justice, including its accessibility, affordability, and diversity. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must promote social equity and justice, be accessible and affordable to all, and promote diversity.

Beauty: This category evaluates the building’s aesthetic and cultural impact, including its beauty, cultural significance, and contribution to the community. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be aesthetically pleasing, culturally significant, and contribute to the community’s well-being.

ECOSYSTEM WHERE CIVIL CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS DEVELOP FOR SUSTAINABILITY

OUR MISSION IS TO CULTIVATE THE NEXT GENERATION OF SUSTAINABLE LEADERS THROUGH EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, AND TOOLS

Green Building Standards #5: BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method)

BREEAM is a green building standard developed in the UK, focusing on sustainability and environmental performance. BREEAM certification evaluates a building’s environmental impact, from its design and construction to operation and maintenance.

The BREEAM standard is widely recognized in Europe and is gaining popularity in other parts of the world.

BREEAM certification evaluates a building’s performance in the following categories:

  1. Management
  2. Health and well-being
  3. Energy
  4. Transport
  5. Water
  6. Materials
  7. Waste
  8. Land use and ecology
  9. Pollution

Management: This category evaluates the building’s management practices, including its environmental policy, management structure, and environmental performance. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have a good environmental policy, a well-defined management structure, and environmental performance.

Health and well-being: This category evaluates the building’s impact on occupant health and well-being, including its indoor environment quality, access to nature, and social interactions. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must promote occupant health and well-being, provide access to nature, and promote social interactions.

Energy: This category evaluates the building’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, including using renewable energy sources and its contribution to climate change. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be energy-efficient, use renewable energy sources, and have a reduced environmental impact.

Transport: This category evaluates the building’s impact on transportation, including its accessibility, its impact on traffic congestion, and its promotion of sustainable transportation modes. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must promote sustainable transportation modes, have good accessibility, and minimize its impact on traffic congestion.

Water: This category evaluates the building’s water usage, including its impact on water resources and the surrounding ecosystem. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use water efficiently, promote water conservation, and minimize its impact on water resources.

Materials: This category evaluates the building’s materials usage, including the use of sustainable materials, the reduction of waste, and the use of recycled materials. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must use sustainable materials, promote recycling and reuse, and minimize waste.

Waste: This category evaluates the building’s waste management practices, including its waste reduction strategies, recycling programs, and disposal methods. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must promote waste reduction, implement effective recycling programs, and use environmentally friendly disposal methods.

Land use and ecology: This category evaluates the building’s impact on the surrounding ecosystem, including its impact on biodiversity, habitats, and natural resources. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have a reduced impact on the ecosystem, promote biodiversity, and protect natural resources.

Pollution: This category evaluates the building’s impact on air and water pollution, including its emissions and discharge of pollutants. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have a reduced impact on air and water pollution, use environmentally friendly materials and products, and minimize its emissions and discharge of pollutants.

Green Building Standards #6: Fitwel

Fitwel is a green building standard that promotes health and well-being in buildings. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA), it provides guidelines for building design, construction, and operation, focusing on occupant health and well-being.

The Fitwel certification process evaluates building location, indoor environment quality, and occupant safety.

Fitwel certification evaluates a building’s performance in the following categories:

  1. Location
  2. Building access
  3. Outdoor spaces
  4. Entrances and ground floor
  5. Stairwells
  6. Indoor environment
  7. Workspaces
  8. Water supply
  9. Cafeterias and prepared food areas
  10. Vending machines and snacks
  11. Ramps and elevators
  12. Emergency procedures
  13. Safety and Security
  14. Community health outreach

Location: This category evaluates the building’s location, including its proximity to transportation, outdoor spaces, and community resources. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be located in a sustainable area readily accessible by public transportation, have good access to outdoor spaces, and promote community engagement.

Building access: This category evaluates the building’s accessibility, including its entrances, exits, and circulation spaces. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must be easily accessible to all occupants, have good signage and wayfinding, and provide accessible routes.

Outdoor spaces: This category evaluates the building’s outdoor spaces, including the availability of outdoor amenities, such as seating, shading, and greenery. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have suitable outdoor spaces that promote occupant health and well-being.

Entrances and ground floor: This category evaluates the building’s entrances and ground floor spaces, including the availability of seating and amenities. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have welcoming entrances, provide seating and amenities, and promote occupant comfort.

Stairwells: This category evaluates the building’s stairwells, including their safety, lighting, and accessibility. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have well-lit, safe stairwells promoting physical activity and accessibility.

Indoor environment: This category evaluates the building’s indoor environment quality, including air quality, temperature, and lighting. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide good indoor environment quality that promotes occupant health and well-being, such as proper air filtration and ventilation, comfortable temperatures, and adequate lighting.

Workspaces: This category evaluates the building’s workspaces, including the availability of ergonomic furniture and equipment and the promotion of the physical activity. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide ergonomic workspaces that promote productivity and well-being, such as adjustable chairs and standing desks.

Water supply: This category evaluates the building’s water supply, including its quality and accessibility. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide clean and safe drinking water that is easily accessible to all occupants.

Cafeterias and prepared food areas: This category evaluates the building’s food offerings, including the availability of healthy food choices and nutritional information. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide healthy food options that promote good nutrition and well-being, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and provide nutritional information.

Vending machines and snacks: This category evaluates the building’s vending machines and snacks, including the availability of healthy options and nutritional information. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide healthy snack options that promote good nutrition and well-being and provide nutritional information.

Ramps and elevators: This category evaluates the building’s accessibility, including the availability of ramps and elevators. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide accessible routes, such as ramps and elevators, easily accessible to all occupants.

Emergency procedures: This category evaluates the building’s emergency procedures, including communication and evacuation plans. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must have effective emergency procedures that promote occupant safety and well-being.

Safety and security: This category evaluates the building’s safety and security measures, including access control and emergency response systems. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must provide effective safety and security measures that promote occupant safety and well-being.

Community health outreach: This category evaluates the building’s impact on the surrounding community, including its outreach and engagement efforts. To achieve a high score in this category, the building must engage with the surrounding community and promote community health and well-being.

Green Building Standards: A Conclusion

Green building standards have become increasingly important in recent years as more and more buildings seek to reduce their environmental impact and promote occupant health and well-being.

The highest green building standards, including LEED, Passive House, Living Building Challenge, BREEAM, and Fitwel, provide guidelines and certification processes that help buildings achieve these goals.

By focusing on factors such as energy efficiency, indoor environment quality, and occupant health and well-being, these green building standards are helping to create more sustainable, healthy, and resilient buildings.

Architects, interior designers, and construction companies can use these standards to guide building creation that positively impacts the environment and promote occupant health and well-being.

Green Building Standards: FAQs

What is LEED certification, and why is it important?

LEED certification is a green building standard focusing on sustainability and environmental performance. It provides guidelines for building design, construction, and operation that promote energy efficiency, water conservation, and indoor environment quality.

LEED certification is necessary because it helps buildings reduce their environmental impact and promote occupant health and well-being.

What is the Passive House standard, and how does it promote energy efficiency?

The Passive House standard is a green building standard that focuses on creating energy-efficient buildings that rely on natural energy sources. It provides guidelines for designing buildings that reduce energy consumption while maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.

The Passive House standard promotes energy efficiency by requiring airtight building envelopes, high-quality insulation, and energy-efficient ventilation systems.

What is the Living Building Challenge, and how does it promote sustainability?

The Living Building Challenge is a green building standard that focuses on creating self-sufficient buildings that operate within their natural environment. It provides guidelines for designing buildings that rely on renewable energy sources, promotes biodiversity, and use sustainable materials.

The Living Building Challenge promotes sustainability by requiring buildings to consume net-zero energy, promote water conservation, and use non-toxic and sustainable materials.

What is BREEAM certification, and why is it important?

BREEAM certification is a green building standard focusing on sustainability and environmental performance. It provides guidelines for building design, construction, and operation that evaluate a building’s impact on the environment, from its design and construction to its operation and maintenance.

BREEAM certification is important because it helps buildings reduce their environmental impact and promote occupant health and well-being.

What is Fitwel certification, and how does it promote occupant health and well-being?

Fitwel certification is a green building standard that promotes health and well-being in buildings. It provides guidelines for building design, construction, and operation focusing on occupant health and well-being, such as indoor environment quality and access to healthy food options.

Fitwel certification promotes occupant health and well-being by requiring buildings to have good indoor environment quality, provide healthy food options, and promote physical activity.

ECOSYSTEM WHERE CIVIL CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS DEVELOP FOR SUSTAINABILITY

OUR MISSION IS TO CULTIVATE THE NEXT GENERATION OF SUSTAINABLE LEADERS THROUGH EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, AND TOOLS

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