Top Green Building Certifications

05.19.21

Going green is more than a passing trend — it's becoming more and more commonplace among businesses internationally. Businesses worldwide are using sustainable methods when creating their products, providing their services, or planning new construction. Some companies are even creating products consumers can use to live greener lives themselves. Architects are developing new and exciting ways to create green buildings that are more environmentally friendly than buildings of the past.

Now more than ever, consumers are demanding greener products and solutions, and they expect businesses to conduct greener operations. Consumers look for green business certifications on the products they buy or services they receive. To become a green-certified business, you can check a list of environmentally-friendly certifications to see if you can qualify. Part of going green may involve signing up for some green building certification programs, but the benefits can be worth it.

Why Get a Green Business Certification? 

Why should you invest in sustainable building certification programs? The extra effort you put in when getting one of the top green company certifications shows your customers you're willing to go the extra mile to protect the environment and operate responsibly. 

Here are some additional benefits of green business certifications:

  • Showcase business values: Your business may have been using green practices for years, but it may not be obvious to your customers. With a green certification, everyone will know your commitment to protecting the environment. 
  • Use a framework to go greener: To receive a certification, you'll need to fulfill all the requirements. Whether you're green or wanting to go green, seeking a green certification can help you achieve your goals by providing actionable steps. 
  • Save on expenses: Some may think going green means expensive renovations and reconstructions. This isn't always the case. Going green involves using sustainable energy and having energy-efficient light and heat sources. While you may need some renovations to make your building green-certified, your business could save money in the long run by going green. 
  • Prove yourself: With an official certification from a third-party organization, customers and consumers can know your actions back up your claims. 
  • Set your business apart: Set yourself apart from your competition with a green certification. Younger consumers look beyond products when choosing their favorite brands — they want to see that a business has a purpose and goal. With a green certification and an environmental vision, your business can position itself as the superior choice and more eco-conscious than your competitors. 
  • Enhance your marketing campaign: When you choose to go green, you're doing it to be a responsible steward of the environment. Yet, there's no denying that a green certification will appeal to a lot of consumers. Many people feel better about buying products with an official certificate stating the company cares for the environment. You can use this truth to your advantage in ad campaigns and as a unique selling point.
  • Join a community: When you go green, you join a community of like-minded businesses that want to work together to achieve the same goal. This can be great for your business reputation and open doors to teaming up with other companies. 
  • Raise awareness: As an environmental steward in your business sector, you can educate the public on the benefits of buying from and supporting green companies. When you're green certified, you can invest in educational resources on your website and fundraisers geared toward education. Every step toward protecting the environment makes a difference. 

Top Environmentally Friendly Certifications for Businesses

If you are pursuing going green, your next step is to seek official certification. There are plenty of options to choose from. We've listed 11 of the top sustainability certifications for businesses so you can see which may be right for your business. One of the best places to start going green is with your building, so many of these certifications focus on achieving green spaces and buildings to invest in a healthier environment. 

1. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED is one of the top green building certifications a business can achieve. Their mission is to use the LEED points-based rating system to create buildings that are safer for the environment and healthier for the community. They invest in cleaner air, less waste, and increased efficiency. When you seek LEED certification, you're committing to taking steps to make your company's building more friendly to the environment.

LEED's rating system is the most used in the world for businesses seeking greener, more sustainable buildings. With a LEED-certified building, your business can save money on energy and waste costs. You can then focus more time and money on delivering a great product to your customers in a safe and healthy environment. And you can have satisfaction knowing you're doing your part to care for the Earth.

2. Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)

BREEAM is a green certification program that focuses on sustainability and longevity in master-planning projects, buildings, and infrastructure. BREEAM's goal is to assess current and future buildings for sustainability in the face of a changing climate. They seek to help the construction industry reduce its impact on climate change while creating resilient buildings that can withstand and benefit our changing climate. For BREEAM, it's all about climate resilience and building structures that fit the Earth — not bending the environment to fit our needs. 

With a certification from BREEAM, you're associating yourself with over half a million BREEAM certificate holders across 89 countries. BREEAM helps businesses across the world create buildings that are healthier for the environment while opening the door to creative solutions. As businesses and architects create BREEAM-certified buildings, they try to find new and exciting solutions to achieve more green buildings that can last far into the future. The climate may be changing, but the construction industry can make a positive impact. 

3. Green Globes

The Green Globes certification helps builders around the world create more environmentally friendly buildings, whether they are existing structures or new projects. Some business owners are hesitant about going green because they worry about their business adjusting to new "restrictions." While some rating systems may constrict an owner's freedom when creating green spaces, the Green Building Initiative puts the power back into their hands. They provide options to achieve different levels of Green Globes certification for your building, so you can decide which path is right for your building and your business's needs. 

The Green Building Initiative offers Green Globes building certification through three categories — interiors, existing buildings, and new construction projects. Like LEED, the certification uses a points system to determine certificate qualification. Green Globes offers 1,000 total points, but you'll need to receive at least 350 of them to become Green Globes certified. You'll need to undergo an online survey, an on-site third-party assessment, and a post-assessment to receive your certification. Then you can continue pursuing points to show your lasting commitment to environmental consciousness. 

4. Living Building Challenge

Social justice, cultural richness, and ecological restoration come together in Living Future's Living Building Challenge. The driving thought behind this certification is the belief that every part of construction — from design to the construction itself — can make the world a better place. They seek visionary yet attainable building goals to create structures that contribute to a healthier environment. The Living Building Challenge also realizes that every construction project is different. That's why they approach their certification by embracing the unique opportunities and challenges of every project. 

At the heart of the Living Building Challenge are seven categories determining positive environmental performance. These categories are place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty. When you seek Living Building Challenge certification, you're striving to make your company's building into one that shows excellence in these seven categories. Your efforts can add up to create a building that fits into the environment around it, both in function and in design, while helping inhabitants lead healthier and happier lives. 

5. Zero Energy Building Certification

The International Living Future Institute is a strong resource for any business seeking green certification. Besides offering the Living Building Challenge, they provide another certification called the Zero Energy Building Certification. The goal of this certificate is to create buildings that improve their energy efficiency by 60%-90%. While this may seem like an extreme proposition, Living Future is ready to help equip businesses to achieve this certification through education, consultation, and a network of individuals who can provide insight and expertise every step of the way. 

With the Zero Energy Building Certification, you can save money by reducing your energy consumption. You'll train your employees to experience a new connection with your building as they learn more about how it can sustain them without exorbitant energy consumption. Your employees will learn to limit their energy use at work, which could then carry over to their daily lives in their homes. The end goal of the Zero Energy Building Certification is complete freedom from fossil fuels for a renewable future. 

6. Energy Star

Energy Star is one of the most recognizable green certification organizations in the world. People see their classic blue logo on various electric products in stores throughout the country. From lightbulbs to refrigerators, when you see the Energy Star logo, you know you're looking at a product that reduces energy consumption without sacrificing the quality of the product. Energy Star certified products combine performance with environmental consciousness and energy efficiency. So what does it mean to have this familiar certification for your green business building?

You can attach the same brand awareness and environmental connotations to your business when you receive an Energy Star certificate for your building. Energy Star certified buildings save more money and energy and produce fewer greenhouse gases than non-certified buildings. This certification uses the strict guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine eligibility. Since certificates last only one year, you'll maintain a high level of compliance to EPA standards to renew and maintain your certification every year. 

7. National Green Building Standard (NGBS)

Green building certifications extend beyond the business and industrial spheres. Residential properties can also receive a green building certificate with the NGBS. Architects, designers, and real estate professionals might take interest in creating spaces with NGBS certification in mind as it provides plenty of benefits while attracting tenants and buyers who want to live in an environmentally conscious home. The goal of NGBS is to create homes with lower utility bills, less maintenance, and increased resale value while helping homeowners build their equity at a faster rate. 

NGBS believes you can achieve a healthier residential space by seeking improved air quality, using sustainable products, and maintaining optimal moisture levels. An NGBS-certified building is as beneficial to the environment as it is to the people living within its walls. Residents can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with living in a space with increased comfort, a smarter location, and a sustainable landscape. The NGBS is a comprehensive home building certificate that boasts benefits for the residents and the surrounding environment.

8. GREENGUARD Certification

UL's GREENGUARD Certification focuses on the air quality of interior spaces. UL understands that indoor air quality contributes to everyone's quality of life. People spend a lot of time indoors, whether they are working, attending classes, or relaxing after a long day. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) thrive indoors, putting people at risk of allergic reactions and experiencing reduced health. If you're committed to creating spaces with healthier indoor air by reducing the amount of VOCs, you can seek GREENGUARD certification for your company's building. 

Becoming GREENGUARD certified involves a thorough process. After applying, you'll undergo several planning meetings, test groups, reviews, and compliance testing before receiving your final certification package. The whole process could take half a year to complete, but it varies from business to business. With a GREENGUARD certified building, you'll be investing in your employees' and customers' health by creating a space built around moisture protection, mold prevention, and more.

9. WELL Building Standard

You can invest in the health of your employees and customers while streamlining your business when you pursue WELL certification for your business. WELL is a tool you can use to advance health and well-being in your business building. WELL provides a flexible framework you can follow to achieve a greater experience for anyone who enters your business space. By creating a healthier indoor environment, your business can cut costs by reducing the amount of sick leave taken and increasing your team's productivity. 

In addition to having a physical space built with human health and well-being in mind, having a WELL certification shows that your business cares about developing a culture of health and wellness in people's daily lives. The WELL Building Standard is grounded in the belief that by investing in people first, you can create a space that flourishes in many other areas — including the financial side of your business. Achieve your WELL certification by pursuing points based on performance outcomes, obtaining Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum ratings. 

10. Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE)

EDGE is a green building certification that focuses on new construction instead of existing buildings. Builders, business owners, architects, and designers with a desire to go green would do well to seek EDGE certification for their upcoming projects. EDGE offers one of the best ways to achieve green certification for your building without having to undergo renovations or other invasive construction projects. With EDGE, you can achieve green certification by building green from the start. 

The free EDGE software uses combinations of building design strategies to help designers plan and create a green-certified building. To qualify, the building must have a projected 20% reduction in water and energy use as well as a reduction in materials compared to non-certified buildings. For a cost, you can have EDGE monitor the steps of your project to ensure green certification when you complete your new environmentally friendly business building. 

11. Parksmart

This green business certification focuses on parking garages and vehicle protection structures instead of offices or warehouses. As a place for storing vehicles while people go about their days, it may seem like there are not many ways to turn parking structures into green facilities. With Parksmart, it's both possible and practical. Parksmart defines, measures, and recognizes these green garages to provide official green certification to the businesses that own them. 

Your business can achieve Parksmart certification for your new or existing parking structure by earning enough points. New structures can achieve Bronze, Silver, or Gold certification. Existing parking structures are eligible for Pioneer certification. Your business can earn points by including parking pricing, stormwater management, access to mass transit, healthy traffic flow, energy-efficient lighting, and charging stations for electric-powered vehicles. These are all ways you can turn a regular parking garage into one that supports a sustainable future. 

Benefits of Adding Solar-Integrated Vehicle Protection Structures to Your Business Property

Implementing solar energy in your business building is a great way to take another step toward becoming a green-certified business. You can do this by turning something that may not be environmentally friendly — your parking lot or car lot — into something that is. If you have outdoor assets that you want to protect, using solar-integrated vehicle protection structures is a great way to achieve two goals at the same time. You'll protect your assets while generating renewable energy for your business. 

Here are a few of the benefits of investing in solar-integrated vehicle protection structures:

  • Take a step toward green building certification: Using solar energy for electricity and heating instead of fossil fuels can put you on track to achieving green building certification. Having on-site solar energy could even help you qualify for credits and funding to help pay for organizational expenses.
  • Comply with your state's energy initiatives: Some states have environmental mandates in place for buildings and new structures. Installing solar panels with your vehicle protection structures can help you comply with these environmentally-focused government mandates and ordinances. 
  • Save on taxes: The government incentivizes businesses to construct environmentally friendly structures with tax breaks. When you install solar panel covered parking structures, you could qualify for these tax breaks. In business, every dollar counts, so solar panels could be well worth the investment. 
  • Save on electricity: Solar panels generate electricity that you can use throughout your business building. While it will cost money to install solar panels, their long-term savings are substantial. Start saving on your electricity bill with solar panel covered parking structures for your business. 

Go Green With Solar-Integrated Structures From VPS

When it comes to covered parking solutions, there are many ways to go green. Parking areas can be the perfect place to install a renewable energy source for your business, helping you achieve your green certification goals. With solar-integrated structures from VPS, you can make your building eco-friendly and benefit from perks associated with renewable energy. 

Protecting vehicles and inventory in your lot from potential hail and catastrophic weather is easier than ever with our solar integrated vehicle protection structures. With VPS, you get more than increased protection for your valuable business assets and visitor and employee vehicles — you have a way to invest in environmental sustainability. Contact us today to request a free quote for VPS solar hail protection structures.