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.

A circular emblem that includes the words LEED, Leadership in energy & environmental design.

The US standard Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was developed in 1998 using BREEAM as a basis.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED® stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It was developed in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC) on the basis of the British certification system BREEAM. Internationally, LEED® is the best-known sustainability certificate for buildings and defines a number of standards for environmentally friendly, resource-conserving and sustainable construction. More than 160,000 buildings worldwide are now certified according to this system.
LEED® can be used to rate the sustainability of all building types over their entire life cycle (planning, construction, operation). What is more, districts, infrastructure projects and even entire cities can be certified according to LEED®. The LEED for Homes system applies to residential buildings.

LEED points system:

The rating is based on a points system. Prerequisites also have to be met before a building can be certified, along with minimum programme requirements. No points are awarded for satisfying the prerequisites. Points can be distributed in any manner across the remaining criteria (credits). A maximum of 110 points can be earned.
The following certification levels can be awarded depending on the number of points gained:

A bar chart depicting the LEED scoring system in four bars.

LEED sustainability categories

The LEED system includes the following seven main categories and two additional categories.

  • An icon showing public transportation, a bus in white outline on dark blue background.

    Location and transportation

    The criteria in this category rate the location and location infrastructure, e.g. proximity to public transport and local amenities. They also take into account whether construction takes place on a previously developed property or a green area. The implementation of alternative transportation solutions is also encouraged.

  • An icon showing sustainability, a plant, a seedling, in white outline on light green background.

    Sustainable sites

    This category encourages sustainable land use, habitat protection and the improvement of biodiversity at the location. It also contains minimum requirements for sustainable building site operation.

  • An icon showing water efficiency, a drop of water in white outline on mint green background.

    Water efficiency

    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 energy, a sun in white outline on orange-yellow background.

    Energy and atmosphere

    The energy and atmosphere criteria are aimed at improving building energy efficiency and promoting the use of renewable energy sources. The environmental friendliness of the air conditioning is also rated.

  • An icon that shows recycling of resources, a cycle of three arrows, in white outline on grass green background.

    Materials and resources

    The criteria in the materials and resources category rate the use of sustainable materials throughout the property life cycle and sustainable waste management during the construction and operating phases.

  • An icon showing indoor air quality, a window with a breeze in white outline on light blue background.

    Indoor environmental quality and comfort

    This category is aimed at improving indoor air quality and user comfort, for example by using an adequate ventilation strategy and daylighting and ensuring quality views and acoustic comfort. The use of pollutant-free materials also plays a role here.

  • An icon showing innovation, a square, an arrow rising diagonally from it to the top right, in white outlines on a red background.


    This category rewards exemplary performance, i.e. overachievement of sustainability criteria and innovation.

  • An icon showing Regional priorities, a pin in white outline on an orange background.

    Regional priorities

    This category awards bonus points for measures related to the region.

  • An icon showing the integrative planning process. Three dots connected by a circle, in white outlines on a green background.

    Integrative planning process

    This category promotes first-class, cost-effective project results by analysing the interactions between building systems at an early stage.

Percentage weighting of the LEED categories

The image shows a pie chart with the different LEED categories.

LEED and the related logo are trademarks owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and are used with its permission.

Resource consumption (energy, water, waste) plays the biggest role in the assessment of existing buildings. The well-being of users and environmentally friendly means of transport to the building are rated on the basis of a survey. The indoor air quality is also measured, and an energy audit is conducted. As a result, assessments of existing buildings focus on performance, whereas there are only a few criteria that relate to fundamental management processes.