Today’s world puts a high priority on sustainable and healthy building. As such, there are is an abundance of certifications that you can apply for to get the upper edge among clients that show an interest in green building.

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification from the US Green Building Council. Projects are granted one of four ratings from Certified to Platinum in one of nine rating systems based on five main credit categories (sustainable site, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials & resources, and indoor environmental quality) and varying bonus categories.

This certification relies of documentation, instead of on-site checks, and is meant as a concise framework for implementing practical green designs. But often enough it ends up being cumbersome, bureaucratic and pricey.

What is great is that an individual can be LEED certified. Being accredited by the organization lends an air of credibility to any green proposals you may make.


While initially developed by the EPA as a voluntary labeling program to promote energy-efficient products, ENERGY STAR is also applicable to buildings, whether existing or new construction. Free, simple and easy to understand, ENERGY STAR is a single-attribute government certification.

For products, it relies on manufacturer-provided data or third-party testing. For buildings, the certification is similarly simple, based on energy efficiency in design and execution of new buildings and refitting and refurbing existing buildings with more energy efficient appliances and systems.

National Green Building Standard

Administered by the National Association of Home Builders, the NGBS establishes green construction practices and performance levels for residential areas. It covers both new construction and renovations on residential homes and apartment buildings.

NGBS is a different flavor of the same process as LEED, with slightly different names to their four levels of certification (The top level is Emerald, because it’s green… get it?). The certification is based on lot design; indoor environmental quality; operations, maintenance and owner education; and energy, water and resource efficiency.

While this is a relatively new certification, it is gaining traction with builders. Building professionals who incorporate green building principles into homes without driving up construction costs can also be designated as Certified Green Professionals™, a handy title to add to your name.

Green Globes

Green Globes doesn’t get as much attention as other building certifications, but maybe it ought to. It’s based on 7 different categories: energy, indoor environment, site, water, resources, emissions and project management. The program applies an online assessment, rating system and outline for sustainable design and operations to both new construction and existing buildings.

Green Globes verifies compliance and introduces uses to the idea of incorporating Life Cycle Assessment tools into material and resource selection. The system is binary and a project must receive a 35% rating based on a 1,000 point system in order to receive the certification and buildings are rated between one and four globes. The certification is straightforward and user-friendly, so anyone can handle it.

BREEAM: Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method

BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for projects from new construction to refurbs. They use third party certification of a property’s environmental, social and economic sustainability.

It’s well-known and straightforward. You can’t go wrong.


Like Green Globes, Greenguard is not yet widely used, but should be soon. It focuses on indoor air quality and low-emission building materials. The certification is available primarily for new construction, but major renovations can also qualify.

There are four programs available: Indoor Air Quality Certified, Children & Schools Certified, Premier Certified, and Building Construction Certified. To obtain the certification, buildings and products have to meet strict requirements on managing moisture intrusion, mold prevention and product choice and approved buildings are re-checked every year.

The certification’s popularity should continue to grow as information about the effects of indoor pollutants continues to spread.