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.
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.

HQE logo

Haute Qualité Environnementale

The HQE sustainability certificate (Haute Qualité Environnementale = high environmental quality) was launched in 2005 by the Association pour la Haute Qualité Environnementale (ASSOHQE). The ASSOHQE is made up of players from the French construction industry and aims to stimulate discussion in the sector and thereby improve construction quality in the long term.

HQE certification was initially introduced as a standard for existing properties as well as new office and school buildings, but is now applicable to all non-residential new, renovated and existing buildings. As with other certification systems, there is a separate rating system for single-family houses and larger residential buildings. The certification is intended to encourage builders and planners to develop, modernise or operate buildings with maximum comfort and minimum environmental impact. For quality assurance purposes, an assessment is carried out by an independent expert (auditor) after the project has been commissioned, planned and completed, or during operation. On the basis of this assessment, the building is certified as Très Performant, Performant or Base. The certification bodies are Certivea for non-residential buildings, districts or infrastructure projects and Cerqual for residential buildings.

The categories applied to every HQE building certification (HQE Bâtiment) include energy, water, materials, waste, climate action, adaptation to climate change, health, well-being and project management. HQE sustainable building certification (HQE Bâtiment Durable) goes beyond this by addressing additional aspects such as circularity, biodiversity, inclusive design, the local economy and life cycle costs. The EU Taxonomy criteria were incorporated into the certification system in the most recent update.

HQE certifications are mainly used in France. At present, there are more than 5,800 HQE-certified projects in a total of 22 countries.