Green Certification

Since the early 1990’s, various ‘green building’ organizations have emerged to help the building community and the general public navigate the waters of ‘building green’. Some of these organizations provide third party certification procedures for an array of residential and commercial buildings, while others are purely advisory and educational in nature. What follows below is a mere sampling of the terrain with respect to organizations that do offer some form of third party ‘green’ certification. An independent third party verification process typically adds value to a property, and brings greater credibility to the market, community, and the tenants of a multifamily property.

Purple Vetch Properites systematically explores the viability and appropriateness of third party ‘green’ certification for all building retrofits; but, securing such a certification is not PVP’s end game. The tail does not wag this dog. PVP will only secure green building certification by any one of the organizations below (or others) when it makes sound fiscal sense to do so for investors, while simultaneously addressing the health needs of tenants, the building, the community, and the environment. However, the succeptibility for third party green building certification always enters largely into our decision whether or not to purchase a multifamily property in the first place.

Purple Vetch Properties recognizes that all of the various organizations that perform some type of 3rd party ‘green’ rating or certification process have their critics and ardent supporters. Here, at PVP, we remain somewhat agnostic, and when possible, apolitical, in this regard; rather than critique any of these agencies, we seek to align ourselves with any given third party verification provider that may be most appropriate for the community, project stakeholders, and property at hand. However, do visit our blog where we will, from time to time, have spirited discussions about the pro’s and con’s of any given 3rd party ‘green’ certification system, amongst a myriad of other topics.

Energy Star / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The ENERGY STAR® label is arguably the most recognized energy efficiency label in the world. ENERGY STAR was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Today, ENERGY STAR offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to save energy, money and help protect the environment for future generations. The EPA’s energy performance rating system today qualifies a large assortment of commercial buildings for the Energy Star Label with a rating of 75 or greater (1 – 100). Although signs of change are appearing, the absence, at present, of a formal Energy Star certification path for pre-existing multifamily properties as a whole, does not prevent PVP from becoming an Energy Star Partner, benchmarking our properties in the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and joining the Energy Star ‘Challenge’, while the EPA sorts out its certification program for multifamily properties.

LEED/ U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization founded in 1993, has as its mission to "transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life."

USGBC is composed of more than 12,000 organizations, including building owners and end-users, real estate developers, facility managers, architects, designers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, product and building system manufacturers, government agencies, and nonprofits.

The USGBC has developed a rating and third party green building certification system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) which is regarded by many as the most distinguished and widely accepted environmental design and third party green building certification standard in the United States. The LEED Ver. 3 sustainable green building certification program has a number of performance / point based rating certification systems (Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum) for new construction and major renovations, commercial interiors, core and shell construction, schools, retail, heathcare, homes, neighborhood development and existing buildings (operations and maintenance). Naturally, PVP is most interested in the LEED – Existing Buildings (EB) standards, since that is the arena in which we do our investments.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Program

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), founded in 1942, is a trade association that ‘’exists to represent the home building industry by its members and affiliated state and local builders associations”, and helps promote the policies that make housing a national priority.

In 2007, the NAHB and the International Code Council (ICC) partnered to establish the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard™, promoted as the first and only residential green building rating system to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Standard defines green building exclusively for single family homes and multifamily properties, residential remodeling projects, and site development projects while still allowing for the flexibility required for regionally-appropriate best green practices.

The NAHB Green Building Standard (NGBS) is administered through the NAHB Research Center, a wholly owned subsidiary founded in 1964. Like LEED, it too has various performance / point based rating certification systems (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald) which all focus on: 1) Lot Design, Preparation, and Development; 2) Resource Efficiency; 3) Energy Efficiency; 4) Water Efficiency; Indoor Environmental Quality; and 5) Operation, Maintenance, and Building Owner Education.

Green Globes

Green Globes is an environmental assessment and rating system for commercial and institutional buildings. Green Globes originally started in Canada, and then in 2004, the Green Building Initiative (GBI) acquired the rights to distribute Green Globes in the United States. GBI is an accredited standards developer under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and has begun the process to establish Green Globes as an official ANSI standard. Green Globes system is a green management tool that includes an assessment protocol, rating system and guide for integrating environmentally friendly design into commercial buildings.

Green Globes uses an online questionnaire-based approach with automated reporting and secure data, values its own flexibility and cost effective structure, asserts its attractiveness to smaller, lower budget buildings, applies to new and existing buildings, has built in portfolio management tools, supports integrated design, and achieves third party certification by trained regional verifiers who are empowered to award a final rating of one, two, three, or four globes. If and when appropriate, Purple Vetch Properties will scrutinize the feasibility of the The Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB), a web based application that aids commercial building owners and property managers in the evaluation, documentation, and improvement of the environmental performance of commercial buildings.

Enterprise Green Communities / Enterprise Community Partners

Enterprise Green Communities is a 2004 initiative of Enterprise Community Partners and positions itself as the first national green building program developed specifically for affordable housing. Green Communities homes are built to comply with the Green Communities Criteria, which include: 1. Integrated Design; 2. Site, Location and Neighborhood Fabric; 3. Site Improvements; 4. Water Conservation; 5. Energy Efficiency; 6. Materials Beneficial to the Environment; 7. Healthy Living Environment; and 8. Operations and Maintenance.

Green Communities was created in consultation with many of the nations’s leading environmental, public health and green building experts and offers grants, loans, tax-credit equity, training and technical assistance to builders and and developers who wish to participate in a green building program for affordable housing. Enterprise Green Communities offers an online certification process for entities engaged in the development of affordable housing that meet the eligibility parameters, and projects much achieve compliance with their mandatory measures applicable to that construction type.

One Planet Communities / BioRegional

One Planet Living is a global initiative based on 10 principles of sustainability developed by the UK based BioRegional Development Group and Swiss based WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). One Planet Communities is a network of neighborhoods that have an overarching sustainability strategy that address the the 10 One Planet Principles, and have had an Action Plan approved by the project review board. These communities are required to adopt a set of Common International Targets which are then augmented by independently certifiable international and national industry standards, such as some of the 3rd party rating systems we have discussed above. Even though the sheer scale of One Planet Communities is much larger than any PVP project presently envisaged, we are continuously inspired and humbled by the breadth of these principles and hold them with reverence within our company.

10 One Planet Principles

  1. Zero Carbon
  2. Zero Waste
  3. Sustainable Transport
  4. Local and Sustainable Materials
  5. Local and Sustainable Food
  6. Sustainable Water
  7. Natural Habitats and Wildlife
  8. Culture and Heritage
  9. Equity and Fair Trade
  10. Health and Happiness

"The One Planet vision is to create a future where it is easy, attractive and affordable for people to lead happy and healthy lives within a a fair share of the earth’s resources."

~ One Planet Communities