Blog/How to get green building certified
Reading time 3 min

How to get green building certified

In a world of increasing environmental awareness, we are slowly reaching the point where all buildings will be fully constructed with sustainable building materials. Buildings like these can earn certifications — or green building labels — for their level of sustainability. Around the globe, there are many certification systems in use that serve to recognize sustainable building projects. In this blog, we describe one of the most important certification systems — and how to get certified.

Green building certification systems
The ‘big three’ and most important are:

  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design);
  • BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method);
  • DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen [German Sustainable Building Council]).

To read more about these three green building labels in greater detail, we recommend our green buildings labels whitepaper.

In this article, the focus will mainly lie on the acquisition of green building labels accredited by the DGNB, one of the aforementioned prominent and authoritative green building labels in Europe. The DGNB certification system has transnational standards that don’t just state whether a building is sustainable; the assessments also produce a statement of how sustainable the building is.

The DGNB green building certification process
To have a project green building certified by the DGNB, one needs to follow a certification process. In this process, the employment of a consultant is optional. The employment of an auditor is mandatory. To quote the DGNB website: “The DGNB certification process is supervised at all times by an auditor who has been appointed by the DGNB. The auditor is in constant contact with the contractor; the contractor enters a certification contract with the DGNB. There is no contractual relationship between the DGNB and the auditor in order to guarantee the greatest possible degree of objectivity.”

Important to know is that an auditor can also function as the contractor of a project. If the contractor is also the auditor, the contractor composes a contract with the DGNB. If the contractor is not also the auditor, the contractor composes a contract with the DGNB and the auditor. 

The DGNB green building certification criteria
In order to obtain a DGNB certificate, a building is assessed on six main criteria. Each of the main criteria has a weight of 22,5 percent of the total score, except for technical, process, and location quality, which have less weight.

  1. Ecological quality: 22,5%
  2. Economical quality: 22,5%
  3. Socio-cultural quality: 22,5%
  4. Technical quality: 22,5%
  5. Process quality: 10%
  6. Location quality: 5%

For the accreditation of green building certifications, the DGNB has made a distinction between single buildings, blocks, and buildings in use. Within each of the main criteria, there are more specific use profiles for single buildings, blocks, and buildings in use. Please find an overview of the criteria for single buildings and blocks in this whitepaper. 

DGNB green building label award tiers
The DGNB has several award tiers for green building labels, which are accredited based on the main certification criteria:

  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Diamond

What is interesting to know is that, since 2017, the DGNB Diamond tier is included in the green building label award tiers. The Diamond tier is a recognition for Gold and Platinum certified buildings that also boast excellent architectural qualities, which are evaluated by an independent committee. More information about the DGNB’s certification (award values) is to be found in this green building labels whitepaper.

Requesting a DGNB green building certification
Contractors can submit green building label requests for projects via the DGNB website manually. The registration of a project can be performed here. If you would like to learn more about DGNB green building labels — and how they benefit architects and architect firms greatly — we recommend our new whitepaper on the topic. You can download your free copy here.



Green Building Label
Figure 2 Whitepaper Green Building