Measuring Green Around the Globe
The term “green building” has been transformed in recent years from a qualitative ideal and marketing vehicle to a quantifiable and defensible statement about sustainability. Key to this transformation has been the development of transparent and trusted rating and certification systems for green buildings. BREEAM (established in the UK in 1990), LEED (established in the U.S. in 1998), and Green Star (established in Australia in 2003) are all examples of green building rating systems that have sprung up and grown in influence over the past two decades.
The figure to the right from the U.S. Green Building Council — sponsor of the LEED green building rating system — shows the steady growth of LEED certified building space and is indicative of the rise in popularity of such systems:1
Some green building rating systems have expanded beyond their countries of origin. BREEAM and LEED in particular strive for recognition as international, universally accepted standards. (Green Star rating systems also exist now in several countries, but each location maintains a national focus.) While there are great advantages to a ubiquitous and easily-recognizable labels, there are also advantages to a localized rating system, designed for a specific region and taking into consideration the technical constraints and policy objectives in that area. One example is Estidama’s Pearl Rating System in the United Arab Emirates. This system places less emphasis on energy and more on water efficiency, due largely to the scarcity of fresh water resources in that region.
Whether international or local in scope, rigorous green building rating systems help owners focus greening efforts on important sustainability measures and ensure that their green building claims are not perceived as greenwashing.
The interactive map below shows the green building rating systems in use today in different parts of the world. For more information on various rating schemes, follow the links on the map to the individual rating system websites, or visit the Green Building Rating Systems page of the World Green Building Council website.