Rating Systems, Codes, and Certifications

Rating Systems, Codes, and Certifications

Green Building Rating Systems, Codes, and Certifications

In recent years a number of organizations have established green building standards and rating systems.  These are third-party, voluntary certifications for green buildings--homes, commercial buildings, schools, manufacturing plants, neighborhoods, and more.

Building codes have also been developed in recent years for energy conservation and green construction. They work closely with the voluntary rating systems and are being adopted by state and local governments, including Illinois, to set minimum green building standards for all buildings.

Training and credentials have been developed not only for those professionals who build and retrofit homes and businesses, but also for those who must operate and maintain green buildings.

While this site does not specifically endorse one set of standards, system or credential over another, it does feature those which have national and international recognition and are acknowledged by local, state, and federal governments.

Better Built Members have been actively training in sustainable construction and green building technology, some achieving certifications and accreditations. Look for green building professionals in the Member Directory.

The LEED® Rating System

Established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a third-party, voluntary certification program and an internationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. According to the USGBC:

"LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a suite of rating systems that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance. The LEED rating systems are developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees, diverse groups of volunteers representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry.

LEED is flexible enough to apply to all building types--commercial as well as residential. It works throughout the building lifecycle--design and construction, operations and maintenance, tenant fit-out, and significant retrofit. And LEED for Neighborhood Development extends the benefits of LEED beyond the building footprint into the neighborhood it serves."

The LEED rating system awards points or credits for strategies implemented in the following areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design. The system awards bonus points for strategies that address local environmental issues.

Building owners, including homeowners, may be interested in pursuing LEED certification of their projects. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), working in partnership with the USGBC, guides building owners through the LEED certification process. Depending on the number of points or credits earned for green building strategies, a project may be awarded one of several certification levels. Certification applications are reviewed and awards are made by GBCI. Interested building owners should contact GBCI or a LEED Accredited Professional for assistance.

LEED Accredited Professionals help building owners select, oversee, and implement green building strategies for a project. They also help owners apply for LEED certification. LEED Accredited Professionals often work with local governments and organizations on neighborhood development and sustainability planning.

In order to achieve and maintain LEED credentials, an individual must engage in rigorous training, exams and ongoing learning. Credentials are available for several green building specialties.  

Visit GBCI for LEED credentialing requirements.

Visit USGBC for LEED publications, training courses, and education providers.

Look for green building professionals in the Better Built Member Directory.

Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI)

Building Performance Institute (BPI) is a non-profit standards development and credentialing organization for residential energy efficiency retrofit work. Through its affiliates, BPI provides training, individual certification, company accreditation, and quality assurance for home energy efficiency projects.

BPI certified contractors and energy professionals strive to make homes safe, comfortable and energy efficient. They do this by conducting an initial energy audit, making appropriate repairs, and then by checking the work to ensure quality and improved energy efficiency.

Individuals interested in BPI certification may choose from several specialty areas. BPI professionals engage in rigorous training, exams and ongoing training to maintain their certifications.

Visit BPI for more information.

International Green Construction and Energy Conservation Codes

The International Code Council® (ICC®) is a membership association that develops building codes and standards for residential and commercial construction with a focus on fire prevention and safety. The ICC recently developed the International Energy Conservation Code® (IECC®) and is in the final stages of developing the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

According to the ICC, the IECC model energy building code "contains minimum energy efficiency provisions for residential and commercial buildings, offering both prescriptive- and performance-based approaches. The code also contains building envelope requirements for thermal performance and air leakage."

The IgCC will "establish baseline regulations for new and existing buildings related to energy conservation, water efficiency, building owner responsibilities, site impacts, building waste, and materials and other considerations."

Versus a voluntary green building rating system like LEED, these codes, when adopted as law by state and local governments, set minimum green building and energy conservation standards for which all buildings must comply. 

Individuals interested in learning more about green building and energy conservations codes and/or becoming a building code inspector should visit the ICC.

Building Operator Certification (BOC®)

BOC provides individuals who must maintain and operate buildings with competency-based training and certification. BOC professionals focus on making their buildings safe, comfortable, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.

Visit BOC for more information and local training and certification sites.

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