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The Simple Definition You Need to Understand Green Building

A top-down view of the sustainability industry from an amateur just like you.

The Green Building Dictionary is the final piece of this series on the Green Building industry, giving a snapshot of the industry’s hierarchy.

Green Building Dictionary

This dictionary serves as a broad overview of the hierarchy and relationships within the green building schemes, certifying bodies, and certifications. Though each of the Clarus™ credits are not listed here, immediately following this outline, there are charts that list the certifications and which specific schemes they adhere to.

The Basics:

  • Certifying Body – Typically nonprofit organizations, the certifying bodies, publish the green building certification rating schemes that rate construction, infrastructure, and community projects as more environmentally friendly. These organizations are well-known in the green building industry and act as spokespeople for environmental initiatives around the world.
    • Scheme – Schemes are the standards established for green building. Different schemes, such as LEED and BREEAM, are more important in different regions around the world. Each scheme accepts different credits (or certifications) within their individual rating systems.
      • Certification – Individual products and materials can earn certifications through extensive testing, process and material disclosure, and proven product sustainability. Including certified products in green building projects contributes to “points” in green building schemes and helps the entire project to earn environmental certification under a particular scheme.

For example, a building project pursuing a LEED certification would include materials that adhere to its standard, whereas a building project pursing a BREEAM certification might include different materials, based on the certifications accepted within the BREEAM scheme.

Green Building Organizations:,

  • International Living Future Institute –The International Living Future Institute is an international organization that bolsters sustainable manufacturing processes worldwide. The institute establishes green building standards and heads up several other environmental initiatives around the world.
    • Living Building Challenge – The LBC is an international green building certification scheme created by the International Living Future Institute. The program is known for being extremely selective about which certifications it accepts and which projects can receive its accreditation.
      • Living Product Challenge – The LPC is a stringent product certification that makes up the very top percentage of green building projects. LPC differs from other certifications in that it not only calls for sustainable sourcing, manufacturing, and product performance, but also requires manufacturers to create in-house initiatives to correct and lower the environmental impact of its products in order to maintain the certification.
  • Declare – Declare is a “material ingredient declaration” created and owned by the LBC to verify products as “Red List Free,” free of harmful chemicals. While Declare labels do not function as a certification, these labels simply proclaim Clarus’ high levels of disclosure, high quality ingredient selection, and responsible manufacturing methods. Declare labels allow Clarus’ glassboards to be included in the LBC and LEED schemes as a “Materials” credit.
  • US Green Building Council – The USGBC is a United States based, nonprofit organization that promotes green building by certifying projects with reputable sustainability standards.
    • LEED – LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and was developed by the USGBC. LEED is one of the most prominent green building certification programs worldwide, rating buildings based on the sustainability in design, inclusion of environmentally responsible products and materials, building operation, occupant comfort, and efficiency of construction.
  • Building Research Establishment – BRE is a European-based green building organization, most prominent in the UK. The private organization certifies individual products and entire buildings, creating environmentally responsible projects worldwide.
    • BREEAM – BREEAM stands for “Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.” This scheme was the first-ever certification method for green building projects, and even today functions as one of the most renowned certification programs in the world.
      • Carbon Footprint – Assessing an organization’s carbon footprint reveals the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released throughout the manufacturing process of a product. This certification provides organizations another level of disclosure and transparency with customers and stakeholders, allowing carbon footprinted products to contribute to BREEAM projects.
  • Other Certifications– These certifications are not owned by a particular green building organization, but function as independent certifications that contribute points to many different green building schemes.
    • Environmental Product Declaration – EPD is a “multi-attribute, type 3 Ecolabel,” created to test and measure multiple aspects of products. As one of the most in-depth, research-intensive, and stringent certifications available, Clarus’ EPD contributes to credits in many different green building schemes as a “Materials and Resources” credit, including LEED, BREEAM, LBC, and many other schemes.
      • Products achieve an EPD by undertaking an LCA– Life Cycle Assessment. An LCA measures a product’s environmental impact throughout its entire lifetime, from raw material extraction, through manufacturing, transport, use, and disposal.
    • Indoor Air Quality – Various Indoor Air Quality standards such as Indoor Advantage are considered type 1 ecolabels and are single-attribute standards for low emitting materials. Products certified under Indoor Advantage have been tested and certified to have VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions below set thresholds, verifying their low impact on indoor air quality. This certification contributes to building schemes credits for “low emitting materials”.
      • Products achieve Indoor Air certifications by undergoing California 01350testing – a chamber test for VOC emissions.


Clarus glassboards are certified as Indoor Advantage Gold, an Indoor Air Quality Standard of SCS Global Services. Indoor Advantage contributes to LEED, LBC, and many other schemes.