Systems for building certification


Building certification systems evaluate the quality of the sustainability of a building using standardised criteria. Depending on the overall degree of fulfilment of these criteria, which is verified and submitted by an external auditor, a certificate is issued. On the one hand, this controls the demands placed on the building and, on the other hand, serves as a valuable communication and marketing instrument. Often the assessment of individual sustainability aspects or life cycle phases is possible. Buildings assessed as particularly sustainable then receive for example a certificate in “platinum” (DGNB, LEED), in “gold” (BNB) or with the designation “outstanding” (BREEAM).


For calculating the environmental impacts of a building over its entire life cycle among others detailed information regarding the building products used is required. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) represent life cycle assessment data relevant for building certification systems at product level and are verified by independent third parties. Inter alia they can serve as a reliable data foundation for the life cycle analysis of a building as well as proof for required characteristics of building products. KLB has therefore already started early on to gather comprehensive EPDs for its light-weight concrete masonry blocks.

  • DGNB
  • BNB
  • LEED

German Seal of Quality Sustainable Construction (DGNB)

The DGNB Certification System encompasses up to 40 criteria, which are assigned to six topic fields: “Ecological Quality”, “Economic Quality”, “Sociocultural and Functional Quality” as well as “Technical Quality” flow into the overall assessment with a share of 22.5 % each, “Process Quality” with 10 %. “Location Quality” is indicated and assessed, but does not explicitly flow into the overall assessment, as the associated criteria can only be influenced to a very limited degree in the planning of the building. Depending on the overall fulfilment degree of the criteria, the German Association for Sustainable Construction e.V. (DGNB) issues a DGNB certificate in platinum, gold or silver - for existing buildings a bronze certification is also possible. New construction as well as existing buildings and quarters are certified. Additionally, a preliminary certification in the planning phase is possible.


The overall degree of fulfilment is thereby not solely decisive for the issuance of a certificate. In order to receive a certificate, a minimum degree of fulfilment must be achieved in each of the five assessment-relevant topic areas, which is 15 percentage points below the necessary overall degree of fulfilment (except for the bronze certification). A building can for example only receive a platinum certificate if the overall degree of fulfilment is at least 80 % and the degree of fulfilment of the individual topic areas is at least 65 % each.


Rating System Sustainable Construction (BNB)

The BNB also assesses the complete life cycle of a building taking into account all dimensions of sustainability and is operated by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Reactor Safety (BMUB). It basically distinguishes the three modules “New Construction”, “Use and Operation” as well as “Complete Modernisation” for the four system variants “Office and Administration Building”, “Outside Facilities”, “Training Facility” and “Laboratory Building”. Here the certification also concerns federal buildings, for the DGNB system private sector projects.


A certificate award according to BNB occurs based on the assessment of almost 50 criteria, which are summarised in the same previously explained six DGNB main criteria groups. The weighting of these criteria groups for the final grade also corresponds to the certification according to DGNB. Only the indicated quality levels differ: The overall degree of fulfilment according to BNB is assigned a grade, which is equivalent to one of the three quality levels “bronze”, “silver” or “gold”.

Building Research Establishment Envi-ronmental Assesment Method (BREEAM)

BREEAM is considered with a total of more than 550,000 issued certificates in 71 countries as the Europe-wide leading certification system. BREEAM works in several countries together with organisations to be able to adapt the certification system to national and local conditions. The official German partner is the Deutsche Private Institut für nachhaltige Immobilienwirtschaft GmbH & Co. KG (DIFNI).


BREEAM also has several system variations: “Masterplanning (Stadtquartiere)”, “New Construction (Neubau)”, “In-Use (Bestand)” as well as “Refurbishment and Fit-Out (Modernisierung)”. The assessment of a building occurs in three separate parts: the building itself (“Asset”), the building management (“Building Management”) as well as the usage pattern (“Occupier Management”). Overall points (“credits”) are awarded in ten categories and at the end there are the following certificate levels: “Outstanding (Herausragend)” is the highest designation, followed by “Excellent (Exzellent)”, “Very Good (Sehr gut)”, “Good (Gut)” and “Pass (Befriedigend)”.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED is the certification system of the American U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is used for projects in over 150 countries, which makes it the most widespread building certification system in the world. It has five system variations and overall twelve credit categories. For a certification, depending on the system variant, specified basic requirements must be fulfilled in certain categories. Furthermore additional credits, which are decisive for the certificate level, can be earned. Possible certifications are “Certified (Zertifiziert)”, “Silver (Silber)”, “Gold” as well as “Platinum (Platin)”. In the German speaking region German Green Building Association (GGBA) is the contact for this certification system.