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green building development

Investment in sustainable building has reached a tipping point, according to the World Economic Forum. Building owners and operators are facing tightening environmental and workforce well-being regulations, coupled with higher expectations from investors. 

Green building certification is a major step organizations can take to signal to investors and customers that they are committed to sustainability, as well as a way to evaluate buildings and facilities to ensure employee wellness. According to World Economic Forum, “returns on investment in sustainable office buildings include attracting high-quality tenants and achieving higher occupancy levels, rental uplifts and greater rental yields, as well as lower compliance costs and reduced operational costs.”

This guide will help you understand the process of acquiring green building certification.


What Is Green Building?

The goal of green building is to create healthier, more efficient, and environmentally responsible built environments for present and future generations. This is achieved through the design, construction, and operation of buildings in a way that minimizes their environmental impact and maximizes resources. 

Green building practices may include using renewable energy sources, incorporating energy-efficient technologies, using sustainable materials, optimizing building orientation for natural lighting and ventilation, and implementing systems for water conservation and indoor air quality management. 


What Is Green Building Certification?

Green building certification is a process that evaluates buildings for specific sustainability and environmental standards. Certification involves assessing various aspects of a building's design, construction, operation, and maintenance to ensure it minimizes environmental impact, enhances occupant health and well-being, and promotes resource efficiency. 


Navigating Green Building Certification

Here’s what you need to know about the systems, processes, and best practices for green building certification.

Certification systems

Certification systems provide frameworks and criteria for evaluating buildings against specific sustainability goals, helping to guide and incentivize the development of environmentally responsible structures. 

Here are a few of the most commonly used frameworks:

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides a framework that evaluates buildings across several categories, including energy efficiency, water usage, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and sustainable site development. 

LEED certification comes in different levels (Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) based on the number of points a project earns through meeting various sustainability criteria.

In 2024, USGBC is doing a slow-release of LEED v5, which introduces new prerequisites such as "embodied carbon assessment" and "climate resilience assessment" to emphasize upfront environmental impact and long-term adaptability to climate change.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) 

A widely used environmental assessment method for buildings and infrastructure projects, developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the United Kingdom. Similar to LEED, BREEAM evaluates buildings across various sustainability categories, including energy efficiency, water usage, materials selection, waste management, and ecology.

BREEAM certification is awarded at different levels (Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding) depending on the building's performance against these criteria.

WELL Building Standard

Developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), WELL emphasizes strategies and design features that address various aspects of human health and wellness, including air quality, water quality, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mental well-being.

WELL certification is achieved by meeting specific performance criteria across these categories, which are based on scientific research and best practices in the fields of public health, building design, and wellness.


ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that promotes energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. It provides a set of energy efficiency standards and certifications for various products, buildings, and industrial facilities.


The Living Building Challenge, led by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), offers a framework for creating regenerative buildings. One key aspect of this program is the Net Zero Certification, specifically targeting net zero energy use in buildings. This certification goes beyond simply reducing energy consumption by requiring documented proof that a building produces enough renewable energy on-site to meet its annual operational needs. In addition to the Zero Energy Certificate, ILFI also offers a Zero Carbon Certification which involves both the operational emissions from a building's energy use and the embodied emissions associated with materials and construction. Unlike some green building programs, these Net Zero Certification prohibits fossil fuel use and verifies performance through third-party audits.


The certification process

Each certification process will be unique to what is outlined by the specific certifying body, but the following general guidelines will help you prepare for certification.

1. Preparation

Assemble a team of internal stakeholders and external consultants to manage the certification process. Define goals and objectives for attaining the certification. Evaluate various certification frameworks and choose the one that best aligns with your organizational needs.

2. Documentation

Gather any necessary information for certification. This could include architectural plans, utilities records, lab reports from sampling water and air, waste management records, and other applicable documents. Each certifying body will have a complete list of necessary documentation.

3. Review

The certifying body will review your documentation to ensure your building and practices meet the requirements for certification. Some certifying bodies may also conduct site visits to validate the information submitted.

4. Certification
Upon final analysis, if your building and practices meet the requirements set forth by the certifying organization, you will be awarded a certificate. Some organizations, such as LEED and BREEAM, have varying degrees of certification. 


Certification tips and strategies

Here are some tips to help the certification process and beyond.

  • Start early. If you are building new, incorporate certification requirements into your design specifications.
  • Set clear goals. Establish specific sustainability goals and targets for the project to guide decision-making and prioritize resource allocation.
  • Prioritize performance. Focus on achieving measurable performance outcomes rather than just meeting the base requirements for green building certification.
  • Educate and engage stakeholders. Educate and involve building occupants, community members, and other stakeholders to promote awareness and engagement with sustainable practices.
  • Establish ongoing monitoring and reporting. Implement systems for ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and performance optimization to ensure long-term sustainability and occupant satisfaction.

The Real Value of Certification

As the global response to climate change causes shifts in investor behaviors, consumer expectations, and the regulatory landscape, green building certification offers an opportunity to proactively meet these expectations. 

“The rise of ESG is definitely attracting the attention of developers who are keen to demonstrate how their facilities cater to those needs and the right certification next to your building name can communicate that more effectively than a thousand-word proposal,” Moshe Muller, ESD Israel.

Green building also offers environmental, social, and financial benefits that include: 

  • Cost savings through reduced energy and water usage
  • Enhanced brand reputation 
  • Improved employee productivity and satisfaction 
  • Healthier indoor environments for all building occupants 
  • Regulatory compliance and risk mitigation 
  • Access to incentives and rebates offered by local governments
  • Long-term resilience to changing environmental regulations and market demands

The long-term benefits of green building certification make it a worthwhile investment. 


Explore how Inogen Alliance can support your journey to green building certification.


Inogen Alliance is a global network made up of dozens of independent local businesses and over 6,000 consultants around the world who can help make your project a success. Our Associates collaborate closely to serve multinational corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and we share knowledge and industry experience to provide the highest quality service to our clients. If you want to learn more about how you can work with Inogen Alliance, you can explore our Associates or Contact Us. Watch for more News & Blog updates here and follow us on LinkedIn