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 for DGNB showing an infinite loop.

The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) has been certifying sustainable construction in Germany since 2009.

German Sustainable Building Council

The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) is Europe’s largest network for sustainable building practices. To enable sustainable building practices to be applied, measured and compared in practice, the DGNB has developed its own certification system, the German Sustainable Building Certification, which was first used in the market in 2009. The system has been steadily improved since then and is now considered an advanced and internationally recognised green building certification system.

The DGNB system is based on the three pillars of sustainability – the environment, the economy and society – which are equally weighted in the rating. To achieve an all-round assessment, the DGNB system also rates the location, technical quality and process quality. Performance in these areas can be assessed through various minimum requirements and criteria in the assessment categories. The latter are individually adjusted for different use types and can be applied to new constructions, renovations, existing buildings and districts. Sustainable deconstruction can also be certified.

The following weightings apply to new buildings following the update of the system in 2023:

DGNB point system in a diagram of horizontal and vertical bars.

DGNB points system

The DGNB system rates buildings based on degrees of fulfilment. The total performance index is calculated from the values achieved in six areas. The DGNB awards platinum, gold, silver and bronze ratings, with the lowest level only being granted to existing buildings. A total performance index of 50% or higher earns buildings DGNB Silver certification. DGNB Gold certification is awarded for a total performance index of 65% or higher, and a project must achieve a total performance index of 80% or higher to gain Platinum certification. Existing buildings can obtain a bronze rating with a score of 35%.

The DGNB aims to promote uniformly high standards for buildings. As a result, the total performance index alone is not sufficient for certification. The degree of achievement must also reach a minimum level in the areas relevant to the rating before certification is awarded.

Logic behind DGNB certification in percentages

DGNB sustainability categories

  • A circular icon showing Ecological Quality, a tree in white on a green background.

    Ecological quality

    The six ecological quality criteria allow an assessment of the building’s effects on the global and local environment, resource consumption and waste generation. One of the main focuses is on preparing an environmental analysis of the building indicating resource consumption and primary energy use over the entire life cycle of the building, including construction, use and demolition.

  • A circular icon showing Economic Quality with a white euro symbol on a blue background.

    Economic quality

    The criteria for economic quality are used to assess long-term economic efficiency (life cycle costs) and performance.

  • A circular icon showing socio-cultural quality, three people in white outline on light green background.

    Sociocultural and functional quality

    The eight sociocultural and functional quality criteria help to assess buildings in terms of health, comfort and user satisfaction, as well as important aspects of functionality.

  • An icon showing technical quality, two white gears on blue background.

    Technical quality

    The seven technical quality criteria allow technical quality to be assessed with regard to relevant sustainability aspects.

  • An icon showing process quality, a white arrow pointing to the right, in front of a purple background.

    Process quality

    The nine process quality criteria are aimed at optimising the quality of planning and construction until the building is commissioned.

  • An icon showing location quality, four arrows aiming at a circle in their center, in white against a light blue background.

    Location quality

    The four criteria for location quality are used to assess sustainability aspects related to the quality of the building’s surroundings and infrastructure, as well as the interaction between the project and building environment.

A lean assessment system based on the sustainable management approach plan-do-check-act is applied to buildings in use. With regard to environmental quality, the focus is on a property’s energy consumption, carbon footprint, water usage and management of recyclable materials. A climate action road map setting out the path to carbon neutrality is prepared for each building. Those that have already achieved this status are additionally certified “climate-positive”. Economic quality considers operating costs, risk management and value preservation, as well as procurement and management, while socio-cultural and functional quality addresses indoor comfort, user satisfaction and mobility.