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As demand for high performance buildings grows, we need tools to give builders, designers, and buyers the confidence that a building is well built or operated efficiently. Verification and labeling by a neutral third party is the best way to confirm a building has met a credible and meaningful standard.
Green labels also use checklists or scorecards that can tell us what ‘green’ features or systems are in place.
When deciding which certification system may be right for a particular building project, check out the organization that created the guidelines you intend to use, learn about the how the system and criteria were developed, and understand which professionals or organizations were involved in contributing to it. Does the program use an unbiased third-party to confirm if a final product lives up to expectations?
The systems and guidelines described below are known by the market in San Francisco, by City policies, and by other incentive programs. Each is widely recognized, uses a consensus process to maintain and update standards, offers a menu of measures or measurable performance targets, and utilizes independent third-party verification.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems provide credible third party evaluations of the design, construction, and operation of buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach, referencing established standards and metrics to recognize projects that minimize impacts in six categories: site sustainability, water efficiency, energy management, materials, indoor environmental quality, and innovation. To earn LEED certification, project teams document numerous sustainability criteria, earning points for performance beyond industry minimums. Depending on the points confirmed, a building can be certified LEED Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
LEED Standards are available for:
· LEED-BD+C (Building Design & Construction) - addresses new construction projects and major renovations for commercial buildings as well as K-12 schools, multi-unit residential buildings, laboratories, and many other building types
· LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) - addresses commercial tenant improvement projects
· LEED-EBOM (Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance) - addresses building upgrades, and the ongoing operations and maintenance of buildings
· LEED-H (Homes) - addresses single family as well as multifamily residential projects
· LEED-ND (Neighborhood Developments) - takes a broader view of developments at the neighborhood scale
Founded in San Francisco in 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed and maintains LEED rating systems. A separate organization, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) oversees building certifications and professional accreditation.
GreenPoint Rated is a label recognizing single and multi-family homes built or renovated to save resources, provide healthy indoor spaces, conserve water, use energy efficiently, and connect to the community. Recognized by both the San Francisco Building Code and the San Francisco Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the label was developed and is maintained by Build It Green, a non-profit with the mission to promote healthy, energy and resource-efficient residential building practices in California.
To be GreenPoint Rated, a home must meet minimum requirements in each category and score at least 50 points on a checklist that matches the type and scope of the project. These points are independently verified at key stages in the construction process by an independent Certified GreenPoint Rater.
Green Point Rated Systems
Green Communities CriteriaTM
An integrated set of financial tools and incentives for affordable housing developers, the Green Communities Criteria were developed collaboratively by Enterprise Community Partners and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the nation's leading experts in green building and smart development, in consultation with other partners and experts in the field. Download a copy of the criteria (registration required).
Bay-Friendly Landscaping Guidelines
A whole-systems approach to the design, construction, and maintenance of the landscape, Bay-Friendly Landscaping Guidelines support the integrity of one of California's most magnificent ecosystems, the San Francisco Bay watershed. Download the guidelines.
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.