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.

International WELL Building Institute logo

WELL Building Standard 

The WELL Building Standard has been awarded by the American International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) since 2014. Compared to the other established green building standards, WELL focuses primarily on users’ health and well-being.

In its current version (v2), the standard takes an end-to-end approach and covers ten areas (concepts) in order to assess the well-being and health of tenants and users: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind (mental and emotional health) and community. Special initiatives are recognised in an additional category for innovations.

Each concept comprises a large number of criteria and preconditions that must be met to achieve certification.

The lowest WELL rating is bronze (at least 40 points). To achieve a higher certification of silver (at least 50 points), gold (at least 60 points) or platinum (at least 80 points), properties must define and implement optimisation measures in the individual areas.

The programme distinguishes between three project types: new and existing buildings, new and existing interiors, and core and shell. As with other systems, existing certifications must be confirmed every three years through recertification.