Green Certification for Buildings: LEED and BREEAM Standards

What is Green Certification?

Green certification for buildings is a process by which a third-party organization assesses a building’s environmental impact and performance. It provides a recognized standard for measuring a building’s sustainability, energy efficiency, water conservation, and overall environmental friendliness.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

LEED is one of the most widely recognized green building certification programs in the United States. It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and provides a framework for evaluating the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. The certification is based on a point system, with different levels of certification available: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology)

BREEAM is a widely used green building certification program that originated in the United Kingdom. It evaluates buildings based on a comprehensive set of criteria, including energy and water use, materials selection, waste management, and ecology. BREEAM certification is also based on a point system, ranging from Pass and Good to Very Good, Excellent, and Outstanding.

Key Differences

While both LEED and BREEAM aim to promote sustainable buildings and reduce environmental impact, there are some key differences between the two:

Geographic Focus:

LEED is primarily used in the United States, whereas BREEAM is more commonly used in Europe and other parts of the world.

Assessment Approach:

LEED focuses on the overall performance of the building, including its design, construction, operation, and maintenance. BREEAM, on the other hand, places a strong emphasis on the design and construction phase of a building.

Credit Categories:

LEED has several credit categories, such as Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation. BREEAM has similar categories, including Energy, Health and Wellbeing, Innovation, Management, Materials, Transport, and Water.

Benefits of Green Certification

There are several benefits to obtaining green certification for buildings:

Environmental Benefits:

Green certified buildings adopt practices that reduce energy consumption, water usage, and waste generation, leading to a lower carbon footprint and overall environmental sustainability.

Cost Savings:

Green buildings tend to be more energy-efficient, resulting in lower utility costs for the occupants. They also often have longer lifecycle and maintenance savings.

Health and Wellbeing:

Green certified buildings often prioritize occupant health and wellbeing by ensuring good indoor air quality, natural lighting, and ample access to green spaces.

Marketability and Reputation:

Green certification enhances the marketability of buildings, as more and more tenants and investors prioritize sustainability. It also boosts the reputation of the building owner or developer as a responsible environmental steward. In conclusion, green certification programs such as LEED and BREEAM play a vital role in driving the construction industry towards sustainability. They provide a clear set of standards and guidelines for designing and constructing environmentally friendly buildings, resulting in numerous benefits for the environment, occupants, and building owners alike.