Several rating systems have been developed over the past years. In addition to professional certifications, some municipalities or independent finance sources have established their own benchmarks and checklist requirements. Each of these systems has been developed from slightly different industry perspectives and sometimes with slightly different motivations. The most well-recognized in the United States is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system.
In most cases these certification systems are concerned with the design and building process and the materials used in construction. This is typically confirmed using a commissioning process to test the quality of construction and the completed building systems. To truly realize the benefits of sustainable design, measurable improvements must be found in the building’s economics and operations and in the lives of the building’s residents. Some developers have incorporated extensive monitoring systems into their buildings to track utility use and other indicators. As the table above illustrates, many of these rating systems have more similarities than they do differences. However, levels of costs and projects types are unique; therefore, choosing a rating system that best fits the needs of your project is crucial.