Sustainable Building Certifications

PHIUS+ Certification (Passive House)

Passive House is both a building energy performance standard and a set of design and construction principles used to achieve that standard. The Passive House standard is the most stringent building energy standard in the world: buildings that meet the standard use 80 percent less energy than conventional equivalent buildings, and provide superior air quality and comfort.

A systems-based design strategy carefully models and balances a comprehensive set of factors to keep the building at comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures throughout the heating and cooling seasons. Continuous mechanical ventilation of fresh filtered air, assures superb air quality. More information about what a Passive House is and how it works can be found here:

The PHIUS+ Certification program combines a thorough passive house design verification protocol with a stringent quality assurance and quality control program performed on site by highly skilled and specialized PHIUS+ Raters. With the exception of a slightly relaxed standard for remodeling applications, there are no half-measures with PHIUS+, you either meet the standard or you don’t.

LEED for Homes 

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class green building strategies and practices. LEED homes are built to be healthy, providing clean indoor air and incorporating safe building materials to ensure a comfortable home. Using less energy and water means lower utility bills each month. And in many markets, certified green homes are now selling quicker and for more money than comparable non-green homes.

To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. A LEED for Homes verification team, including a green rater, an energy rater, and a Homes provider, provide third-party quality assurance.  LEED for Homes can be utilized as a stand along comprehensive green rating system, or can be combined with Passive House certification, for those seeking a green home that is also extraordinarily energy efficient.

Living Building Challenge 3.0

The Living Building Challenge™ is a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek. The Challenge aims to move beyond constructing buildings that are merely less bad to constructing buildings that become truly regenerative.

The Living Building Challenge is a more ambitious green building standard than LEED. Whereas with LEED there are just a few prerequisites and many ways of gaining points to achieve certification, with the Living Building Challenge all imperatives, such as net positive water or net positive energy, are mandatory. Also, whereas LEED is standard based on modeled or anticipated performance, Living Building Challenge certification is based on actual performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least twelve consecutive months prior to evaluation and certification.

 The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) National Green Building Standard

The National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) certification provides independent, third-party verification that a home is designed and built to achieve high performance in six key areas: Site Design, Resource Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Building Operation & Maintenance. The NAHB standard certifies homes are designed and built to the requirements of the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) – the only residential green building rating system approved by ANSI as an American National Standard.

The NGBS is roughly equivalent to LEED, except that NGBS is less expensive than LEED for Homes and certification generally takes less time.

U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home

DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes are verified by a qualified third-party and are at least 40%-50% more energy efficient than a typical new home. This generally corresponds to a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score in the low to mid-50s, depending on the size of the home and region in which it is built. All DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes are so efficient a small renewable energy system can offset most or all annual energy consumption.

EPA’s Energy Star Certified Home

Energy Star for new homes is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) energy rating system for new homes. ENERGY STAR Version 3 homes are approximately 20% more efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Verification of a home’s energy efficiency by a third-party organization is mandatory for earning the ENERGY STAR label.

EPA’s Indoor Air Plus

EPA created Indoor airPLUS to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. Indoor airPLUS builds on the foundation of EPA’s ENERGY STAR requirements for new homes and provides additional construction specifications to provide comprehensive indoor air quality protections in new homes.

To earn the EPA’s Indoor Air Plus certification a builder must first design a home to earn the ENERGY STAR label— the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. The result is a home that is significantly more energy efficient than a home built to minimum code, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To earn the Indoor airPLUS label, the builder then adds additional home design and construction features to help protect qualified homes from moisture and mold, pests, combustion gases, and other airborne pollutants. Before the home officially earns the Indoor airPLUS label, it is inspected by an independent third-party to ensure compliance with EPA’s rigorous guidelines and specifications.

EPA’s WaterSense

The WaterSense New Home Specification, sets criteria for indoor and outdoor water efficiency, while allowing flexibility for regional landscaping preferences. Before the home officially earns the WaterSense label, it is inspected by an independent third-party to ensure compliance with EPA’s rigorous guidelines and specifications.

The EPA’s WaterSense designation can be a stand alone designation or can be earned in conjunction with the USGBC’s LEED for Home program or NAHB’s National Green Building Standard program.

Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is a multi-attribute, continuous improvement methodology that provides a path to manufacturing healthy and sustainable products for our world. It is administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Because the Standard rewards achievement in five categories and at five levels of certification, C2C Certified represents the most comprehensive product quality mark available.

Since product certification began in 2005, more than 150 companies have adopted the methodology and over 400 certifications have been issued for Cradle to Cradle Certified product groups. These companies include industry giants such as Steelcase, Herman Miller, Desso, and a government leader, the United States Postal Service.


GREENGUARD & GREENGUARD Gold GREENGUARD Certification helps manufacturers create–and helps buyers identify– interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions, improving the quality of the air in which the products are used.

The GREENGUARD Gold standard includes health based criteria for additional chemicals and also requires lower total VOC emissions levels to ensure that products are acceptable for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities. In addition to limiting emissions of more than 360 VOCs and total chemical emissions, GREENGUARD Gold Certified products must also comply with requirements of the State of California’s Department of Public Health “Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers, Version 1.1 (2010)” (also known as California Section 01350).


WELL Building Standard®

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment. They believe that buildings should be developed with humans at the center of design. To help realize this vision, the IWBI administers the WELL Building Standard®, which is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and wellbeing.

The WELL Building Standard® addresses air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind; and works in alignment with LEED, the Living Building Challenge, and other global green building systems. The WELL Building Standard® is grounded in medical research that demonstrates the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants. An on-site post-occupancy performance audit is required for WELL Certification™, and re-auditing every three years is required to maintain certification. Developed through consultation with leading medical and building industry practitioners, the WELL Building Standard® is currently in pilot.