Building Certification Guidelines

As the adoption of sustainable building practices rises, it becomes increasingly critical that architects have the most up-to-date information on tools and performance criteria during the development stage. We are dedicated to developing products, systems, and services that help comply with these standards and promote integrated, whole-building design practices. There are a variety of building certifications across the nation and a brief overview is given below, but many have similar sections/categories. Within these certifications, building envelope products such as Kawneer products can contribute to earning points/credits in categories/sections, such as: Energy, Materials and Healthy Indoor Environment. See how you can design sustainable buildings with Kawneer products using our certification guidelines.



Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design


The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating SystemTM  is a voluntary, evolving, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings using a comprehensive, point-based system. It’s the most well-known and used sustainable certification system currently in the US and can cover a variety of building/project types. It was established in 1994 and has undergone several evolutions into the current rating system. Recently, there was an upgrade to a more rigorous version 4 (v4) with increased emphasis on product transparency and whole-building life cycle analysis. With this update, we’ve developed a new LEED v4 Certification Guideline to deliver the most up-to-date performance information on Kawneer products. If your project has already been registered under LEED v2009 (v3) Certification Guidelines, we’ve got you covered.


Kawneer is a proud sponsor of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the organization that developed and maintains LEED, both Nationally and the Georgia state chapter. We are also proud to note that our Sustainability Specialist is a member of the USGBC LEED Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group.


LEED v2009 (v3) Certification Guideline 

LEED v4 Certification Guideline


Living Building Challenge


The Living Building Challenge™ (LBC) building certification program challenges design techniques with the most stringent sustainability characteristics in the building industry today. Using creativity to push design, LBC encompasses the social community in the built environment. LBC has been seen as ‘beyond LEED’ because it's not just a certification, but a philosophy on building design. LBC is the most progressive with technology and design practices and it looks at all facets of sustainability and design together.


Its layout is a bit different than other certifications. First the various sections are called “petals” and have “imperatives” which describe the task that needs to be achieved. Certification also requires a third-party audit after 12 months of occupancy. This is because LBC is not just about design practices it's also about performance of those practices. A few imperatives and even whole petals look at the social aspect of sustainability which is unique to LBC. This includes culture, human welfare and charity donation just to name a few. LBC is designed as multiple types of certifications rather than achievement levels but they are similar. The type of certification is determined by the type or number of petals achieved where Living Building Certification is the highest and all petals are achieved. The guideline below helps to outline which petals and imperatives Kawneer products contribute toward for certification. The quick guide is a short overview of how Kawneer products can be utilized for certification.


Kawneer is a proud sponsor of the International Living Futures Institute (ILFI), the organization that developed and promotes LBC and DECLARE. We also participate in the LP50, which is a group of manufactures that collaborate to transform the materials economy through transparency, green chemistry and supply chain innovation


Red List Free DECLARE labels 

LBC v3.0 Certification Guideline


The WELL Building Standard


On average people spend 90% of the time indoors and many green building rating systems consider the indoor environmental quality, but the WELL Building Standard® (WELL) goes above and beyond. The main focus of WELL is the connection between the building and its occupants on a whole other level that includes, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and even nutrition. Third-party certified by the Green Business Certification Incorporation (GBCI), WELL looks to improve human health and wellbeing through design of the built environment. Its performance based flexible framework encompasses all types of buildings since it focuses on the occupants that are being rolled out in phases.


WELL has a series of precondition and optimizations for each category or "feature" as it's called in WELL. Scores are given based on applicable optimization features, but all applicable preconditions must be met to receive a score and certification.


WELL may be the newest rating system, but its catching on quick since it takes human health and wellbeing to the next level. The guideline below helps outline the WELL features and the Kawneer products that can contribute toward the standard.


WELL v1 Certification Guideline


Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS)


This standard has been adapted for the US from the original version based in German (PassiveHaus), but is now completely independent. Despite the name, PHIUS can be used on commercial multi-story buildings and is based on passive design principles such as air tightness, continuous insulation, energy sources and resiliency. PHIUS is completely based on modeled performance and is pass/fail.  The passive building standards are all based on energy efficiency with limits of total source energy for the project. A big focus is on thermal performance and air tightness of the building envelope.  PHIUS has ‘Climate Zone Recommendation Criteria’ for windows to understand the thermal performance needed from windows to help achieve the PHIUS standard. Kawneer thermal windows can help to achieve PIUS, please use the link below to see our products for PHIUS projects.


Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) Certification Guideline 

Kawneer Passive House Window Products




The Building Research Establishment (BRE) started in Europe in 1990 and created the world’s first building sustainability certification called BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). This third-party certification promotes best practices in sustainable property development and covers a wide range of building types.  Recently, BREEAM USA was established to complement other sustainable building certifications in the US. 


BREEAM USA currently focuses on In-Use assessments for existing buildings (BREEAM In-Use). There are no pre-requisites and begins by performing a self-assessment with an unverified score to help create an action plan for sustainable improvements. Then if chosen, certification of the building will verify the information and certify the building. For certification there are minimum standard requirements for certain levels and are similar to pre-requisites as there are required for higher level rating.


Since BREEAM USA In-use focuses on performance and management of existing buildings, renovation projects are a big part of the rating system. The rating systems is made up of three sections: Asset Performance, Building Management, and Occupier Management. The management sections refer to facility operations and policies and are not relevant to product use, but if you’re making upgrades to the building envelope on your BREEAM renovation project then Kawneer products can help contribute to the project.


BREEAM USA In-Use v2.0 Certification Guideline


Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)


A certification specifically designed to create healthy learning environments and improve student performance, Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS – aka “chips”) is a national certification for new or existing buildings based on a core criteria for K-12 schools. CHPS is a little different in a few ways from the other building certifications.


It can be adapted at the state level if they choose, by add additional code requirements to the core criteria.  Any state without a state specific certification can use the US-CHPS criteria as is. States with state specific criteria are Hawaii, Washington, California, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine. The US-CHPS contains the core criteria that's required for all certifications which is made up of several categories with pre-requisites and credits similar to other building certifications, but unlike other certifications pre-requisites earn points and CHPS is not considered a rating system.  This is because the certification is based on pass/fail, where buildings achieving 110 or more points attain certification. 


There are also two recognition levels: Designed and Verified. CHPS Designed is more like a self-evaluation of the progress and process. There is no third-party review and accountability is on the school and design team. Website recognition is given for projects that complete this process. An audit process is currently being created to help with accountability for the design level. CHPS Verified requires documentation and third-party review for accountability. Website recognition and a plaque is given for projects that complete the verified level. The guideline below will help you to better understand how Kawneer products can contribute to CHPS certification.


US-CHPS 2014 Guideline


Green Globes


Green Globes® is a North American building rating system that is flexible for all building types. Originally developed in Canada, it was adapted for the US in 2004 and has taken hold with federally funded projects that require sustainable design practices. Green Globes has a two-stage assessment process – design and on-site. The main characteristic of Green Globes is that it starts as a self-assessment questionnaire using interactive online tools that shows how points are awarded and scored and provides guidance to help implement the integrated design process from start to finish. A third-party design review occurs after the online self-assessment has been completed. This assessment results in a report illustrating points verified, points still needing to be verified, a preliminary score and recommendations. The third-party on-site assessment takes place before occupancy of the building. This assessment includes interviews with the project team and a walk-through of the building. A report is issued after the on-site assessment with the score and rating for the project.


Green Globes is a rating system with four achievement levels depending on the percentage of points awarded from the total points. There are no pre-requisites and partial credit may be awarded in some areas. The guideline below helps to outline how Kawneer products can contribute to Green Globes points and certification.


Green Globes New Construction v1.4 Guideline

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