A header image from the bottom view that includes glass skyscraper facades, trees and a view into the sky.

Green-building–certificates at a glance

Gaining certification for a large number of our fund properties is an important part of our commitment to sustainability. This focus on sustainability in the building sector is based on a comprehensive approach to the property life cycle using environmentally friendly technologies while ensuring profitability at all times.

In this context, property sustainability certificates allow compliance with sustainability criteria to be measured and compared in accordance with nationally established and internationally recognised certification systems.

These include the three best known and most widely used systems for end-to-end building assessment: BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) . The French sustainability certificate HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale), which is also based on a comprehensive ESG building assessment, has now become known outside France as well. In addition, the topic of health and well-being is gaining in significance. WELL certification enables properties to be designed and optimised so that they create a healthy and comfortable environment for people who spend time in them.

A building is referred to as green if it is planned, constructed, modernised and/or operated using sustainability as a guiding principle. Building certification is a tool that has become established worldwide for rating sustainable construction and improvements to existing buildings.

Green Building Certification Systems

In a time when using resources sustainably, reducing CO2 emissions and paying attention to health and well-being are more important than ever, certifications are becoming increasingly significant. In recent years, various certification systems for sustainable buildings have been developed on the basis of the three pillars of sustainability: the environment, the economy and society. The range of assessment criteria used in these systems provides a form of guidance.

Around the world, there is a large number of certification systems with a wide range of approaches and objectives.

Selection of different certification systems

  • Australia: Nabers, Green Star
  • Brazil: AQUA, LEED® Brasil
  • China: GBAS
  • Germany: DGNB
  • Finland: PromisE
  • France: HQE
  • United Kingdom: BREEAM® UK
  • Hong Kong: HK-BEAM
  • India: LEED® India, TerriGriha
  • Italy: Protocollo Itaca
  • Canada: LEED® Canada, Green Globes
  • Malaysia: GBI Malaysia
  • Mexico: LEED® Mexico
  • Netherlands: BREEAM® NL
  • New Zealand: Green Star NZ
  • Austria: ÖGNB – TQB (TQB since 1998; ÖGNB since 2009); klima:aktiv (since 2005, Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology); DGNB, since 2009 – adapted by ÖGNI
  • Philippines: BERDE, PHILGBC
  • Portugal: Lider A
  • Switzerland: Minergie
  • Singapore: Green Mark
  • Spain: VERDE
  • South Africa: Green Star SA
  • United States: LEED®, Green Globes
The Edge in Amsterdam, with a sunset coloured in blue, red and orange. Both the interior and exterior of the building are illuminated.

Excellence in sustainability: The Edge, BREEAM Outstanding.
Deka Immobilien’s portfolio includes The Edge – one of the most sustainable office buildings in the world.

Similarities and differences

BREEAM, LEED® and DGNB are the main sustainability certification systems in Europe. The evaluation is based on a variety of criteria that assess the sustainability performance of buildings in a structured manner. The HQE sustainability certificate was launched in France in 2005. As a result, HQE certifications are mainly awarded there. These building certification systems are based on an end-to-end assessment of sustainability performance. To reflect the changing legal framework, the most recent updates focused more strongly on life cycle, resilience and climate neutrality. Economic aspects also play a major role in the DGNB’s evaluation, and an attestation of conformity with the EU Taxonomy can also be obtained at the same time as the certification. The EU Taxonomy generally forms part of all widely used certification systems in Europe.

The WELL Building Standard, which has been awarded since 2014, focuses primarily on the health and well-being of users. Other certification systems dedicated to specific topics have emerged in recent years, such as WiredScore, which assesses a building’s digital connectivity, or net-zero carbon certifications, to name two examples.

The certification systems relevant to the European market are compared below.

Logo BREEAM delivered by BRE

Initially published in 1990, the British system Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) was the first of its kind to be developed.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method

BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. This certification system was developed in 1990 in the United Kingdom (UK) by BRE Global Limited (UK 1990). Founded in 1921, BRE is an independent UKAS-accredited research and certification body and a subsidiary of the BRE Trust. It launched the first certification systems on the market in 1990.


Since their launch on the market, more than 2.3 million buildings have been registered and over 600,000 certified. BREEAM currently operates in 93 countries. BRE Global Limited is the system provider for BREEAM in the United Kingdom and other countries. It is mainly responsible for the development of the BREEAM system variants. The company also has partners around the world known as National Scheme Operators (NSOs), which are granted an exclusive licence by BRE Global to develop country-specific BREEAM systems. This involves adapting existing versions of BREEAM systems to reflect local regulations, taking into account standardisation, legislation and the building culture while ensuring comparability with the international BREEAM standard. There are currently five NSOs in Europe. TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH in Frankfurt am Main became an exclusive licence partner of BRE Global in October 2016, making it the sole standard-setting body for BREEAM systems in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There are other NSOs in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Spain.

Depending on the desired level of certification, various minimum requirements must be met. As a rule, new construction and renovation projects, existing buildings, districts and infrastructure projects can be certified. Residential buildings are covered by a dedicated system known as Home Quality Mark.

BREEAM points system

Ratings are based on the degrees of fulfilment, which are indicated by stars. Depending on the degree of fulfilment, 1 to 5 stars are awarded for new buildings, and 1 to 6 stars for modernisations and existing buildings.

BREEAM rating for existing buildings

BREEAM rating for existing buildings

BREEAM rating for new buildings and modernisation projects

BREEAM rating for new buildings and modernisation projects

BREEAM sustainability categories

The BREEAM assessment system for new buildings includes nine main categories and an additional category for innovations. BREEAM covers all the life cycle phases of properties in accordance with the Code for a Sustainable Built Environment.

  • An icon for management that shows a desk connected to three other desks. The icon is white on a light blue background.


    This category encourages the adoption of sustainable management practices in connection with design, construction, commissioning, handover and aftercare activities. Optimising projects on the basis of their forecast life cycle costs is an important part of this category.

  • An icon showing health and wellbeing, an apple in the shape of a heart with a heart current curve. The outline is white on light green background.

    Health and wellbeing

    This category is used to rate the comfort, health and safety of building occupants.

  • An icon showing energy and containing two arrows arranged in a circle and a lightning bolt, in white outlines on a pink background.


    The energy criteria are aimed at promoting energy-efficient building solutions, systems and equipment and reducing CO2 emissions, especially through the use of renewable energies.

  • An icon showing transportation and electromobility, a bus in white outline on a blue background.


    The criteria in this category rate the location and location infrastructure, e.g. proximity to public transport and local amenities. The implementation of alternative transport solutions is also encouraged.

  • An icon showing drinking water consumption, three polluted water drops, one filter, one cleaned drop, in white outlines on light blue background.


    This category is aimed at reducing the consumption of drinking water by using the most water-efficient equipment indoors and outdoors and utilising rainwater and grey water.

  • An icon showing building materials, arranged into an accumulation.


    The criteria in the materials category encourage decisions that reduce the negative environmental impacts of the construction materials used during design, construction, maintenance and repair.

  • An icon showing waste management, two arrows arranged to form a circuit, within it a trash can in white outline on a purple background.


    This category is used to rate sustainable management of construction and operational waste.

  • A symbol of land use, a white tapered leaf on a green background.

    Land use and ecology 

    This category encourages sustainable land use, habitat protection and the improvement of biodiversity at the location.

  • An icon showing pollution, a factory, a tree, smoke from the chimney, radiation, in white outlines on a light green background.


    This category rates the prevention and control of pollution and surface water run-off associated with the building’s location.

  • An icon showing innovation, a glowing light bulb in white outline on an orange background.


    This category rewards exemplary performance and innovation.

Percentage weighting of the individual BREEAM new construction categories.

Circular graphic showing BREEAM categories

“BREEAM is a registered trade mark of BRE (Building Research Establishment Ltd. European Trade Mark No. 5778551). The BREEAM trade marks, logos and symbols are the copyright of BRE and may only be reproduced with permission. The BREEAM trade marks are used under licence.”

For the purpose of assessing existing buildings, the additional categories of resources and resilience were introduced with the current system variant v6 in order to promote the circular economy and adaptation to climate change.