Probably the best known green building certification is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Others are Passivehaus, the Living Building Challenge, National Green Building Standard, GREENGUARD, Environments for Living, L.I.F.E., ASTM D6400-99 Standards, CALGreen code, and the EPA's three-- Indoor airPLUS rating, WaterSense® program, and ENERGY STAR®.
All of these have been touched on in previous articles, but never listed and explained in one place:
- LEED® stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an internationally recognized U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) certification system, with credits applied in categories covering sustainability, energy savings, indoor air quality, health & wellness, and acoustics, among others. An online directory lists all the LEED® certified buildings. In a retrofit in September 2011, the Empire State Building received a Gold LEED® rating, the tallest and largest LEED-certified building in the U.S. and Western Hemisphere.
- Passivehaus originated in Europe, but now has U.S. standards. It promotes building a tight envelope with a ventilation system, to minimize energy losses and maximize gains, using thermal storage materials and earth tubes in place of expensive solar panels.
- The Living Building Challenge for sustainable buildings (LBC), announced in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO) for global sustainability, is a philosophy of core value building industry standards in new construction and renovation to respond in the best way for the environment, society and the economy. It is recognized by its dandelion logo. Building projects are registered and certified as Living when they meet requirements of self-sufficiency in energy and water after a year of full occupancy under continuous operation. The LBC adds environmental and social responsibilities to the USGBC LEED® system and the Canada Green Building Council (cAGBC), endorsed by them. Partial certification, called Petal Recognition, is achieved when at least three Petal requirements are met, including either water, energy and/or materials. The seven Petal performance areas are site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. There is currently no database of the certified buildings, but a list is on the website.
- NAHB ICC-700, the National Green Building Standard™, rates new and remodeled single- and multifamily buildings and residential subdivisions, the only green rating system approved by the American National Standards Institute. The ABC Green Home, on display in Irvine, Orange County, California, achieved this.
- GREENGUARD, by the GreenGuard Environmental Institute (GEI) in 2001 and taken over by Underwriters Laboratories in 2011, is to help manufacturers create and consumers identify building products with lower chemical emissions and better for indoor air, promoting global sustainability, environmental health and safety. All GreenGuard products bear a certification mark and are listed on the website. GreenGuard Select CertifiedSM and GreenGuard Children & Schools were later added to include furniture, cleaning products, electronics and products used near children.
- Environments for Living® program is Masco Home Services' rigorous home builder requirements to build a home as a "system of systems" working together for greater energy efficiency, enhanced durability and indoor environmental quality than conventional code-built homes. There are different levels, with the Environments For Living Certified Green program adding benefits in indoor water efficiency and appliance and lighting efficiency.
- “Label Initiative for the Environment” (L.I.F.E.), in 2009 by the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute, recognizes environmental best practices and promotes energy conservation, environmental responsibility, recycling, waste reduction and social stewardship. The Mitsubishi Polyester Film plant in Greer, SC received this certification.
- ASTM D6400-99 Standards, by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) begun internationally in the 1990s, certifies fully compostable biodegradable plastic and polymer coatings and bindings products, based on "Biodegradability or mineralization, measured by carbon dioxide evolution after microbial assimilation; Ability to disintegrate, so as not to be visible or recognizable after composting; and No impact on the ability of the compost to support plant growth," verified by third-party review. The Building Performance Institute (BPI) and US Composting Council® (USCC) set up the compostable logo.
- CALGreen code, in January 2012 the first statewide green building code in the U.S., has caused over ten thousand homes to go green. With the help of green building organizations like Build It Green, that provides green homes and businesses certification, the state conserved more than 112 million gallons of water and stopped at least 9,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Residents get substantial tax rebates plus lower bills with the code.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's:
- EPA Indoor airPLUS rated homes built after 2008 should have an Indoor airPLUS" label on the circuit breaker box next to an ENERGY STAR label. Those built between 2005 and 2008 should have an ENERGY STAR label that also says "Indoor Air Package". It certifies that the builders used construction practices and technologies to earn the Indoor airPLUS label, reduce indoor air pollutants, and improve the indoor air quality of the home.
- EPA WaterSense® program was started in 2006 to decrease nonagricultural water use. Labels identify high-quality, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances for water conservation. This is similar to ENERGY STAR®, but WaterSense® focuses on water-efficient products and services and requires third-party compliance certification.
- ENERGY STAR®, like WaterSense® includes water products that conserve energy, but promotes energy efficiency on products running on energy. ENERGY STAR® products reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by inefficient energy use. The label make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products to save on energy bills and help the environment.
- Scientific Certification System's Green Building Product Certification denotes compliance with American National Standards in environmental and social criteria in different sectors such as tile products, carpet, furniture, flooring and fabrics. For example, before purchasing flooring, check its FloorScore®.
- Code for Sustainable Homes is the UK national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes, aiming to reduce carbon emissions and promote higher sustainable design standards above current minimum building regulations, the highest UK green building standard. It was achieved by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Village.
View the attached slide show for the certification labels and logos. Buy homes and products that have passed these certification requirements for the best available green buildings.