A quick look at various Green Rating Systems measuring Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Buildings are the biggest consumers of energy and their construction is responsible for great amount of greenhouse gas emissions. There is immense responsibility on us towards our nature. Buildings should be constructed and run according to the principles of energy efficiency, climatic aspects and water conservation. So, rating systems have been developed to measure the efficiency of green buildings/ energy efficient buildings. The purpose of rating systems is to certify the different aspects of efficiency and to identify the performance of different areas like site development, human and environmental health, water conservation, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, social aspects and economical quality. Rating systems or green certification generate value for investors and they provide sustainable amenities.

Source: https://dciusa.com/integrated-systems/leed-sustainability.aspx

There are 600 green certification systems worldwide. The first green rating system BREEAM (building research of establishment’s environmental assessment method) was established in UK in 1990s which was followed by USGBC (U.S. Green building council) in 2000s and then LEED came into the picture to improve the impact of the buildings on the environment.

There are four predominate green rating systems:

(1) Green star is established in Australia and New Zealand
(2) CASBEE is followed by Japan
(3) BREEAM
(4) LEED

An additional system is Green Globes used in North America. Indian has 2 green rating systems – (1) GRIHA (Green rated integration of habitat assessment) (2) IGBC (Indian green building council).

All these rating systems encourage the alternate transportation like bicycling, walking. LEED, CASBEE, BREEAM, Green Globes etc. all award points for sites near mass transit systems. CASBEE is the only rating system that does not award points for the use of mass transit or for encouraging the electric cars.

LEED
LEED structure is based on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor air quality and innovations in design. All categories have different weightage. LEED is the only rating system which includes the category of limitation on the tobacco smoke for the better indoor air quality.

BREEAM
Like LEED, BREEAM is also categorized into different sections. It also includes management practices, transport and ecology.

DGNB – (Deutsche gesellschft fur nachhaltiges Bauren) followed by Germany

It was founded in June 2007. It accounts all three aspects (environmental, social and economic) with process and technical quality. It covers more than 50 sustainability criteria. The main difference being the target values for each sustainability criteria.

Minergie ECO
It deals with the health and ecology aspects.

Green Star
It mainly assesses commercial areas which include office design, office existing buildings and office interiors.

CASBEE
It is divided into three phrases (1) at improving indoor air quality (2) air pollution (3) impact that a building has on the interior and exterior environment. It separates construction projects into internal and external. Internal space is evaluated on the basis of improvements in living amenities for the building users and the external space is evaluated on the basis of negative aspects of environmental impacts. It is the only rating system that does not award points for building schemes that include views to the outdoors.

GRIHA
It includes all relevant Indian codes and standards. Its structure includes site planning, waste management, landscape protection, soil conservation, water conservation, pollution, renewable energy use, health and well-being and innovation points.

IGBC
This system is based on five nature based elements and it is a blend of ancient and modern technologies. It works on green new buildings, villages, residential societies, schools, campuses, cities, mass rapid transit systems, affordable housing, existing buildings, interiors, factory buildings, health and well-being, townships and landscapes. It is the collaboration with the world green building council and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It plans to promote the concept of net zero buildings in India.

There are also green rating systems for communities’ development like (1) Eco Districts which focuses on people centred neighbourhood. Its structure is built around equity, resilience and climate protection. (2) Living community challenges framework for master planning, design and construction with the relationship between the people and all aspects of the environment. (3) SITES – it is for the development of corporate campuses, streetscapes and national parks. (4) Star Communities – it measures progress across social, economic and environmental performance areas. (5) Well Community – it is exclusively on health and well-being of human beings.

Now the question arises, why we use green rating systems? Rating systems have different categories. They increase awareness about sustainability. Every rating system has different goals with some similarities. This can be attributed to different cultures and climatic differences in their countries. Green rating systems focus attention on project goals, methods and means. They help in mitigating the several impacts of natural disasters. Using the framework helps to reduce waste and energy costs. Rating systems offer guidelines and reduce risk of negative environmental impact. They present possibilities to reduce cost, improving well-being and community. They also promote stakeholder participation in the projects. Every coin has two sides. While green rating systems have several benefits there are flaws too. After all these planned strategies how sustainable we are, is still questionable. Rating systems are not universal. They are framed keeping one country in mind however these are not adjusted for using in the local climate and cultures. Thus rating systems are just a beginning to tap the need of thinking ‘GREEN’.

Tanvi Gupta

Tanvi Gupta is a young fresher architect and a former kvian from Bikaner,Rajasthan. She is very fond of sustainable architecture. She is a nature lover and loves to read books. She is introvert by nature with lots of dreams.

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