For many people, the three leading international systems for certifying sustainable buildings – DGNB, LEED and BREEAM – are sometimes used in the same breath and the public perception is that they’re largely interchangeable. But if you take a closer look at the obvious overlaps between the systems, there are actually a number of fundamental differences. This is what our blog series is about.
For many people, the three leading international systems for certifying sustainable buildings – DGNB, LEED and BREEAM – are sometimes used in the same breath and the public perception is that they’re largely interchangeable. But if you take a closer look at the obvious overlaps between the systems, there are actually a number of fundamental differences, so it’s not quite right to consider them synonymous.
People should feel comfortable in buildings. This a fundamental requirement of the DGNB. And by focusing on issues such as accessibility, safety and security, its criteria for sociocultural and functional quality contribute to this aim.
Buildings are a fixed asset and they don’t move much. Yet buildings do have something to do with movement, especially when it comes to the use of environmentally friendly transport. The DGNB has a criterion which is dedicated to the aspect of Mobility Infrastructure, and Version 2018 of its certification system recently adopted a number of topics that will be important in the future.
Looking after the health and comfort of everyone, no matter how old, is one of the central goals of the United Nations. Accordingly, the UN has even given the issue its own sustainable development goal (SDG). In terms of its implications for sustainable building, this has an influence on how the DGNB looks at areas such as air quality in indoor environments. It is also why this issue has its own criterion under the DGNB System.
Whether people like it or not, sustainable buildings still have to be judged by how economical they are. For us, this means the DGNB System is not just built on two pillars – environmental quality, next to sociocultural and functional quality; there’s a third key pillar about financial viability: economic quality. One important factor when it comes to economic quality is the criterion Life Cycle Costing (LCC).
It wasn’t until the extent of insect extinction was understood by the general public that people began to realise how important biodiversity has now become to all of us. Starting with the good news for anyone involved in a construction project: buildings have a significant contribution to make to the promotion of biodiversity. This is aptly demonstrated by the Biodiversity criteria introduced by the DGNB for its 2018 rework of the criteria set.
Certified construction? Oh yes – that’s those handy plaques in platinum or gold, the ones that allow building owners to walk around with architects and announce publicly, “Look everyone, we’re sustainable!” Sort of – yes, that’s one way to describe sustainability certificates. Though actually, buildings don’t simply earn certificates because they deserve to, especially after investing so much time and hard work. It is also a well-earned award for of all those important decisions to look after the environment, for keeping a close eye on commercial viability, and for ensuring the development will be good for the people within the buildings and districts.