There are a few organizations that provide certifications for buildings that are built and operated more sustainably. Just like food getting certified as organic, humane, or non-GMO, it allows consumers to know that the building has met certain guidelines and requirements, influencing their decision to buy it. Developers use these certifications because they want to do good things for the environment but it also allows them to market the building to environmentally conscious consumers. An individual can even get a certification for their own home to know that they are living in a home that is more sustainable and to prove that for the next buyer. More recently, governments are adopting building development codes that require certifications or have similar requirements.
However, there is still a wide difference between basic building codes and how sustainable you can build and operate a building. Certifications for buildings mostly look at the materials used to build the building, if the appliances being used are electric, and how much energy it takes to operate the building. Reducing the energy used in materials and operating a building takes many different things into account. For example, you can orient your building to reduce sunlight heating the interior or add more insulation to require less heating.
Here are the current certifications to consider:
This certification is the longest standing and most well-known worldwide. They have different levels of certification, from silver to platinum. You can get certified for the construction of the building itself and continued operation. It provides certifications for buildings, as well as communities or cities. The certifications focus on reduced energy, water, and waste as well as human health improvements. They also have a Net Zero certification.
Living Building Challenge
This organization has a few different certifications for buildings, communities, and products. Its primary Living Challenge certification focuses on the areas of place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. The org also has certifications Zero Energy and Zero Carbon.
This certification is focused more on the quality of life of humans in buildings and communities, thinking about air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community. The focus is more on the health of the building and comfort and less on the environment or sustainability.