Other Ratings & Standards

Photo: Elekhh. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.


Standards and rating systems have been at the heart of the green building movement at least since U.S. energy standards for buildings (like ASHRAE 90.1) started ratcheting up following the 1970s energy crisis.

If you care about health and sustainability, you can now rely on dozens of ratings and standards for buildings as well as things in and around them, including:

  • Lab protocols for chemical emissions from finishes and furniture

  • Testing methods for durability of paints, textiles, and many other products

  • Standards for energy use, ventilation, thermal comfort, and more

  • Rating systems for schools, healthcare facilities, parking garages, landscapes, and healthy spaces
  • Passive House Arrives in North America: Could It Revolutionize the Way We Build?
    March 31, 2010

    Feature Article

    The Passive House standard, imported from Germany, sets a high bar for energy performance in buildings. But some see it as inflexible and inappropriate for some U.S. climates.

  • Navigating Incentives and Regulations for Green Building
    March 31, 2008

    Feature Article

    When used in combination, incentives and regulations can be a powerful force for encouraging green buildings. Incentives can be complicated to navigate, but are often well worth the effort. Regulations, on the other hand, can be slow to change, but can raise the baseline for building performance.

  • Investing in the Environment: The Financial Industry's Approach to Green Building
    October 30, 2007

    Feature Article

    Recent changes in the financial industry are providing new opportunities for financing green buildings. However, lenders and investors have different approaches to documenting the benefits of green, which affect how they use rating systems and other metrics. To navigate effectively in the financial world, green designers and builders need to understand the territory.

  • Climate Change Dominates Greenbuild Conference Agenda
    December 5, 2006

    Feature Article

    With several announcements at the 2006 Greenbuild conference in Denver, the U.S. Green Building Council signaled that it would use its LEED Rating System to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by tightening LEED requirements and by increasing the number of buildings designed to LEED standards.

  • Get a Whiff of This: The Lowdown on Product Emissions Testing
    August 29, 2006

    Feature Article

    Analytical chemistry tools, used together with product testing chambers, are making it possible to "see" product emissions in new ways. Editor Nadav Malin discusses the science behind product emissions testing, the different product certification standards, and what's ahead for this growing field.

  • How to Get from VOC Certifications to Better Products
    October 4, 2016

    Feature Short

    The FDA regulates flies in our soup, but no one regulates VOCs in our indoor air. Somehow that’s a designer’s job to figure out. 

  • VOC Testing: What It Can and Can’t Tell You
    October 4, 2016


    “Section 01350” has come a long way since it acquired its curious nickname. Here’s what it can tell you about indoor air quality—and what it can’t.

  • Treated Wood for Ground Contact, Minus the Toxic Pesticides
    September 7, 2016

    Product Review

    Accoya, now code-approved for fungus and termite resistance, relies on acetylation as a benign alternative to conventional pressure-treated wood. 

  • Legal Wood in LEED Barks Up Wrong Tree, Say NGOs
    September 7, 2016

    News Analysis

    A pilot credit to address illegal logging has been criticized by advocacy groups like the Sierra Club. They’ve offered USGBC their own ideas.  

  • Bark Cladding Is First Cradle to Cradle Platinum Product
    August 4, 2016

    News Brief

    C2C Platinum certification sets a very high bar for sustainability. A decade in, Bark House shingles are the first product to make the grade.