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Green rating systems offer methods of certifying and scoring the environmental stewardship of a project. Different systems have been created for different types of projects. There are a number of organizations who have developed green rating systems. Each rating system has been developed by a combination of environmental advocates and members of the building industry. In addition to rating systems, the organizations’ web sites each provide educational information regarding green building. The organizations active in Florida and their rating systems are described briefly here. Not included here are organizations that rate one environmental or product component of a green building for example, the Energy Star or Water Star programs or the various rating systems for building products.

Florida Green Building Coalition, Inc. -

Florida Green Building Coalition logoThe Florida Green Building Coalition, Inc. (FGBC) is a Florida-based non-profit organization whose mission is to create a statewide green building program with environmental and economic benefits. It has an online database of Florida green projects, products and professionals and holds an annual conference, GreenTrends. Using Florida stakeholders and member committees, it has created the following standards for rating and certifying projects:

Florida Green Home Standard is a designation for new and existing homes. The Florida Home Builder’s Association and Enterprise Foundation have partnered with FGBC with respect to green home programs. Projects are scored on stewardship activities in eight categories, with minimum scores in each category. A score of 100 or more is needed for certification. Projects either reach the certification level or not; there are currently no levels other than the score. The initial development of the Florida green home standard was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. FGBC’s first green home standard went into effect in July 2001. Over 1500 Florida homes were certified through the end of 2007.

Florida Green Development Standard is a designation for the horizontal development or redevelopment of land. The standard has categories of resource protection, circulation, utilities, amenities, covenant and deed restrictions and education. The applicant must achieve a score of 200 points and while meeting the minimum score in each category. Six projects have been certified since the inception in 2002 through the end of 2007. Over a dozen other projects still in the design phase have committed to complying with the program.

Florida Green Commercial Standard is a designation for new commercial and institutional buildings.

Florida Green High Rise Residential Standard is a variation of the commercial building standard designed to meet the need of the many commercially permitted residential buildings.

Florida Green Local Government Standard for Designating Green Cities and Green Counties is a very comprehensive standard that seeks environmental stewardship from all of the various activities that a local government does. It goes beyond green buildings to consider transportation, purchasing, education, marinas, utilities, emergency services, etc. Developed originally by the Florida Solar Energy Center, FGBC and Miami-Dade County under a contract from the Florida Energy Office, with State Energy Program funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, the standard is the first of its kind. By the end of 2007, Pinellas County, the City of St. Petersburg, the City of Tallahassee and the City of Dunedin all were designated green counties or green cities at the silver level. The rating system has certified, silver, gold and platinum levels.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) -

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency in state government for environmental management and stewardship and is one of the more diverse agencies in state government, protecting our air, water, and land. The Department is divided into three primary areas: Regulatory Programs, Land and Recreation and Planning and Management. Florida’s environmental priorities include restoring America’s Everglades, improving air quality, restoring and protecting the water quality in our springs, lakes, rivers and coastal waters, conserving environmentally-sensitive lands and providing citizens and visitors with recreational opportunities, now and in the future.

Florida Green Lodging: A program by the Florida DEP to designate lodging establishments as “green” for following environmentally sensitive operating procedures. As of the end of 2007, 61 properties had committed to complying with the program. Over time, establishments can go from a “one palm’ rating to a “three palm rating.

Green Communities -

Green Communities logoGreen Communities is a five-year, $555 million commitment by the Enterprise Foundation to build more than 8,500 healthy, efficient homes for low-income people and make environmentally sustainable development the mainstream in the affordable housing industry. Projects must be of 15 or more units and located near urban areas as well as meet other green criteria of the program. The Florida Community Loan Fund, the Florida Green Building Coalition and Enterprise have joined forces in a Florida Green Communities collaborative to invest more than $2.7 million worth of incentives to help build or renovate at least 200 homes in Florida that promote health, conserve energy and natural resources, and provide easy access to jobs, schools and services.

Home Energy Ratings -

Home energy ratings provide a standard measurement of a home’s energy efficiency. Ratings are used for both and new and existing homes. In new homes, ratings often verify energy performance for the ENERGY STAR homes program, energy efficient mortgages, and energy code compliance. Homeowners who want to upgrade the home’s energy efficiency can use the energy rating to evaluate and pinpoint specific, cost-effective improvements. For existing homes, homeowners can receive a report listing cost-effective options for improving the home’s energy rating. An energy rating allows a homebuyer to easily compare the energy performance of the homes being considered.

There are two types of ratings:

  • Projected ratings – Ratings performed prior to the construction of a home or prior to the installation of energy improvements to an existing home.
  • Confirmed ratings – Ratings completed using data gathered from an on-site inspection, which could include performance testing of the home.

Confirmed ratings involve an on-site inspection of a home by a residential energy efficiency professional, a home energy rater. Home energy raters are trained and certified by a RESNET accredited home energy rater training provider.

The home energy rater reviews the home to identify its energy characteristics, such as insulation levels, window efficiency, wall-to-window ratios, the heating and cooling system efficiency, the solar orientation of the home, and the water heating system. Performance testing, such as a blower door test for air leakage and duct leakage, is usually part of the rating.

The data gathered by the home energy rater is entered into a RESNET accredited computer program and translated into rating score. The home receives a score between 1 and 100, depending on its relative efficiency. An estimate of the home’s energy costs is also provided in the report. The home’s energy rating is then equated to a Star rating ranging from one star for a very inefficient home to five stars for a highly efficient home.

Unlike an energy audit or a weatherization assessment, a home energy rating is a recognized tool in the mortgage industry. Home energy ratings can be used in a variety of ways in the housing industry. The star and the rating score provide an easily understandable means to compare more efficient homes by their relative energy efficiency, since a rating quantifies the energy performance of a home.


U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) -

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization with a mission to committed to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life. USGBC is composed of more than 12,000 organizations includes building owners and end-users, real estate developers, facility managers, architects, designers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, product and building system manufacturers, government agencies, and nonprofits. Among many activities, USGBC holds an annual GreenBuild Conference. USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems all have certified, silver, gold and platinum levels.

LEED for New Construction is the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating SystemTM for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. There are some variations of the LEED for NEW Construction for specific building uses:

As of the end of 2007, 25 Florida projects were certified and about 200 projects were registered under one of the LEED designations.

LEED for Commercial Interiors is a benchmark for the tenant improvement market that gives the power to make sustainable choices to tenants and designers.

LEED for Core & Shell aids designers, builders, developers and new building owners in implementing sustainable design for new core and shell construction.

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance provides a benchmark for building owners and operators to measure operations, improvements and maintenance.

LEED for Homes promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. Two Florida homes were certified under the pilot by the end of 2007. The full (non-pilot) system became available December 5, 2007.

LEED for Neighborhood Development integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national standard for neighborhood design.

Green Building Initiative -

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is a not for profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings by promoting credible and practical green building approaches for residential and commercial construction.

Green Globes logoGreen Globes Rating System is an environmental assessment and rating system for commercial and institutional buildings. Green Globes originally started in Canada, and then in 2004, the Green Building Initiative (GBI) acquired the rights to distribute Green Globes in the United States. The Green Globes system is a green management tool that includes an assessment protocol, rating system and guide for integrating environmentally friendly design into commercial buildings. Once complete, it also facilitates recognition of the project through third-party verification.

GBI Residential - GBI has worked with NAHB (see below) to produce and promote the NAHB Green Home Building Guidelines, created for mainstream home builders. The guidelines are designed to:

  1. Highlight the ways a mainstream home builder can effectively weave environmental solutions holistically into a new home
  2. Provide a tool that local associations can use to create their own green home building program.
  3. GBI works with local home builder associations to create their own programs.

National Green Building Certification -

The National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) Green Building Program offers two resources for scoring homes: the ANSI- approved ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard, and the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines. Both offer a variety of line items that a builder can choose from in creating a green home.

The National Green Building Standard

The National Green Building Standard is the only green building rating system approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The standard defines what green practices can be incorporated into residential development and construction and how homeowners can operate and maintain their green homes. The standard also provides flexibility — allowing home builders and home buyers to make green choices based on climate and geography, as well as style preferences and budget.

The standard provides home builders and remodelers with an expansive third-party rating system to achieve green certification under the National Association of Home Builders' Green Program (NAHB Green) and the National Green Building Certification Program.

Learn more about the ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard.

NAHB Green

The NAHB Green program includes an automated scoring and evaluation approach for each of these situations that allow a builder, developer, or remodeler to identify green and sustainable building features and products and determine the possible green certification level.  Options for vertical construction include Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald certification.  Options for horizontal development include 1, 2, 3, and 4 Star green certified developments.

NAHB Green provides builders a scoring tool at:

Learn more about the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines.


Comparing Rating Systems

GREEN BUILDING RATING SYSTEMS – A Comparison of the LEED and Green Globes Systems in the US [PDF 871K]

Green Building Rating Systems: An Overview

Green Home Rating Systems Comparison [Excel 396k]
Note: Printing not recommended due to format and number of pages