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  • Writer's pictureCorey L. Wilson

Energy Certifications for Your Existing or New Buildings

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Green building certification standards to consider for a new or existing single building or campus of buildings are the LEED’s many categories, ENERGY STAR Building Certification, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge, WELL Building Standard, Passive House, Net Zero Energy Building, BOMA 360 Performance Program, CHPS and others. A description of each is below.

In terms of LEED building certification alternatives, a growing number of state and local governments are adopting or have adopted different green building standards that aren’t tied to LEED, such as California’s statewide CALGreen building code that became effective on January 1, 2009.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED can be applied to all building types and even to entire neighborhoods. LEED rating systems are groups of requirements for projects that are pursuing LEED certification. Each group is geared towards the unique needs of a project or building type. Non-residential building projects can earn any of four levels of LEED certification based on the number of points they achieve, and those 4 levels are: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. There are four LEED rating systems:

· LEED for Building Design and Construction (BD+C)

· LEED for Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)

· LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M)

· LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND)

Within each of these rating systems are different solutions to fit various project types and scopes.

ENERGY STAR Building Certification

ENERGY STAR for Buildings includes specifications for Existing Buildings, Commercial New Construction, Industrial Energy Management, and ENERGY STAR for Small Business. The program includes three tools as follows for assisting and encouraging organizations in their efforts to reduce energy use and limit resulting greenhouse gas emissions:

· ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

· ENERGY STAR Task Manager

· ENERGY STAR Energy Performance Scale

Living Building Challenge (LBC)

The Living Building Challenge (LBC), administered by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), is far more stringent than Energy Star or LEED and must produce at least as much energy as it uses. They are comprised of 20 imperatives to guide projects into the realm of sustainability. LBC is performance-based and, therefore, its outcomes are indicators of success.

WELL Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard focuses on the health and wellness impacts that buildings have on occupants. The standard is arranged into seven areas of concentration, called Concepts and standard can be applied to a variety of building types, including commercial tenant spaces, existing commercial buildings, hospitality, sports facilities, restaurants, and residential.

Passive House

The German PassivHaus, or Passive House, rating system is designed to cut energy use by 90 percent. It has none of the other requirements of a Living Building Challenge approach and is all about energy consumption, or the lack thereof.

Net Zero Energy Building

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) provides a certification option for a Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) under its umbrella of the holistic Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification. Such buildings have 100% of their energy needs supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis.

BOMA 360 Performance Program

The program is sponsored by Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International. The BOMA 360 Performance Program, intended to be an overarching evaluation of building operations, recognizes buildings that meet industry best practices in building operations and management, safety and risk management, training and education, energy performance, environment and sustainability, and tenant/community relations.

Green Globes

The Green Building Initiative developed Green Globes as a cheaper, simpler Web-based alternative to LEED. The standards are fairly similar; however, Green Globes is primarily focused on energy efficiency rather than some of the product sourcing criteria in LEED. Green Globes also is more flexible than LEED and allows a greater degree of self-reporting.

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)

CHPS Verified™ and CHPS Verified Leader™ will ensure that a school project is well-designed, operated, and maintained K-12 educational facilities that enhance student performance; positively impact student, teacher, and staff health and wellness; make education more enjoyable and rewarding; and promote positive environmental stewardship.

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