Comparison of certification systems ENERBUILD

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Within the ENERBUILD project, a transnational comparison of the ecological evaluation of public buildings has taken place. The comparison study has been put down on paper in the following ENERBUILD publication: Transnational comparison of instruments according to ecological evaluation of public buildings. Also, a comparison between the ENERBUILD tool and LEED credits has taken place.

Transnational comparison of instruments for the ecological evaluation of public buildings

This document illustrates the results of the transnational comparison study carried out on eight environmental labels for buildings actually used in the Alpine regions.

Contents of study

Scope of the Study

The objective of the study was to understand communalities and differences between the assessment systems in the way to identify what are the needs to facilitate a future harmonization at European level. A common approach to environmental building assessment would facilitate the comprehension, dissemination and application of certification systems by the private and public stakeholders. At contrary, the proliferation of labels in the last period has created a confused scenario that need to be simplified.

The systems analyzed are „environmental” labels. This means that the assessment includes issues other than energy as: quality of location, construction materials, water consumptions, emissions, waste, indoor comfort, quality of service, etc.

One result of the project ENERBUILD is the common used ENERBUILD tool. This study gives a short response to the tool and further cooperation among regions in Europe.

The comparison study has been carried out by a team of four project partners coordinated by the Regione Piemonte. The team included: Province of Trento, European Academy Bolzano (EURAC) and Rhônalpénergie-Environnement. The report finalization has been coordinated by Andrea Moro (Regione Piemonte).

The labels included in the comparison study are:

Protocollo ITACA (Italy) Logo protocolloITACA.gif
LEED Italia Logo-gbc-italia 82644.jpg
Casaclima Nature (Italy) Logo.png
DGNB certificate (Germany) Dgnb.png
BDM (France) Basicdemarche logo.jpg
HQE (France) LogoHQE.jpg
TQB (Austria) OEGNB Logo web 000.jpg
Minergie P-Eco (Switzwerland) Minergie-logo-web.jpg

Overview of the environmental labels in the Alpine Regions

In the Alpine Regions considered in the study (Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria) are actually applied different systems for environmental building certification. The origin and scope of the environmental labels is various and the approach to building certification is not homogeneous.


Three are the most significant environmental labels in the Italian Alpine regions: Protocollo ITACA, LEED Italia and Casaclima Nature

Protocollo ITACA is promoted by the Italian Regions and it has a public origin. The assessment system is managed by ITACA (Federal Association of the Italian Regions) with the scientific support of iiSBE Italia and ITC-CNR. Protocollo ITACA is based on the international assessment methodology SBMethod of iiSBE and it has been contextualized at local level by several regions: Piemonte, Liguria, Valle d’Aosta, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Marche, Toscana, Umbria, Puglia and Basilicata. At regional level the Protocollo ITACA is mostly used to support specific policies to promote sustainable building. In particular in the framework of the social housing programs, where economic incentives are given on the base of the environmental performance achieved. Beside the regional versions, in 2011 a national version of Protocollo ITACA will be delivered and a national certification process will be implemented also. This national certification is intended to create a point of reference for the market stakeholders. The certification system is voluntary.

LEED Italia, launched in 2010, is managed and promoted by GBC Italia (Green Building Council) and it is the Italian adaptation of the U.S. LEED. The origin of the system is mainly from the private/industrial sector. LEED Italia is supported and recognized by the Province of Trento. The certification LEED Italia is voluntary. The system is articulated in different versions for new buildings, existing buildings, small houses and neighborhoods. The Province of Trento adopted LEED in incentive based polices for green building. LEED Italia is the unique European adaptation of the US LEED. GBC Italia is a no profit association open to all the stakeholders of the building sector and it is part of the World Green Building Council.

Casaclima Nature is an „expansion” of the Casaclima energy standard. The certification is managed by the Agenzia Casaclima, a public organization located in Bolzano. The Casaclima certification has been the first in Italy introducing the energy rating for buildings and it is mandatory in the Provice of Bolzano, while outside the province it is voluntary.


The first national French certification system is HQE (Haute Qualité Environmentale). It is promoted by the no profit Association pour la Haute Qualité Environnementale (ASSOHQE), located in Paris and founded in 1996. The HQE certification is voluntary. It is applicable to new and existing buildings for different uses. The certification system is managed by AFNOR Certification with the official name of „NF ouvrage – Démarche HQE”. AFNOR Certification appointed three certification bodies (Cerqual, Cequami, Certivea) to operate the certification system as third independent party. The first HQE certification (NF Office Buildings) was launched in 2005, the certification for residential buildings in 2007. The HQE certification is applied in all France.

The BDM (Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens) label is proposed by the BDM no profit association that was established in 2008, recognized as «Pôle Régional d‘Innovation et de Développement Economique Solidaire (PRIDES)» by the Région PACA. The main principle of the label, as for the Italian Protocollo ITACA, is the total contextualization of the assessment criteria to the local level. The BDM assessment system is under adaptation for other French regions also in the Alpine and Atlantic areas. The certificate is issued by the BDM association.


The no profit association DGNB (German Green Building Council) is operating the DGNB certification. The origin of the system is from the private sector. Actually the DGNB certification is also recommended by the BMVBS (Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development) for good planning and building practice. The DGNB system is available for occupancy profiles in high demand: office and administrative buildings, educational facilities, retail buildings, industrial buildings and residential buildings.


The TQB (Total Quality Building) certification system is managed by the ÖGNB a non-profit organization (Austrian Sustainable Building Council). The first version of the assessment system (Total Quality) was developed in 2001 with subsidies from the Austrian Federal Government and based on the GBC’s (Green Building Challenge) GBTool. In 2010 the TQB system has been updated with regard to the international trends and to other Austrian building assessment systems. It is possible to certify residential buildings, offices, commercial buildings; schools, hotels, and shopping centers. TQB is the most applied environmental certification system in Austria.

The Austrian Green Building Council (ÖGNI) in collaboration with the German DGNB has operated an adaptation of the DGNB assessment system to Austria. The first buildings are under certification.


The most relevant Swiss certification system is Minergie - ECO, supported by the Swiss Confederation, the Swiss Cantons along with Trade and Industry. The certification is operated by the Minergie non profit organization. Minergie – ECO integrates the Minergie label with issues related to the environment and the comfort. It’s possible to certify residential buildings, office buildings and schools.

Comparison methodology

A comparison methodology has been identified in the way to analyze the most important technical and management aspects of every certification label.

A „Data collection” form has been filled by the project partners involved in the WP 6.1. The comparison elements adopted in the study are:

  • Basic information: name of the tool/label, the organization that developed the tool and that is managing it, countries where the label is applied, date of issue of the label and web page;
  • Users: who are the stakeholders interested in the use of the certification. The kind of users allows to understand the scope of the assessment system and its focus;
  • Time and physical boundaries. The time boundaries describe the life cycle stages of the building that are assessed (from pre-design to operation). The physical boundaries deal with the scale assessed (building, building + site, neighborhood);
  • Building uses: applicability of the assessment to different building types. This information gives an idea about the extension of the label’s applicability;
  • Structure of the tool. A complete description of this aspect is fundamental to deeply understand the nature of the system. The collected information regards:
  • hierarchic levels of the tool and number of criteria. The objective is to understand how is complicated the assessment tool and indirectly its time efficiency in the use;
  • number of criteria per issue. The objective is to evaluate the distribution of criteria with regards to the main three sustainability issues: environmental, social and economic. This analysis indicates how balanced is the system toward a complete sustainability assessment;
  • number of quantitative criteria. A quantitative criterion is based on the calculation of an indicator based on a physical quantity. A qualitative criterion is based on some type of checklist, statement etc. The percentage of quantitative criteria vs. qualitative criteria is an indication of the level of objectivity of the assessment system;
  • list of criteria. All the criteria are listed as they are organized in the tool. This information allows to understand the different issues assessed;
  • list of criteria per issue. The objective is to have a basic overview of how much the tool is „sustainable”. It means at what level it covers the basic sustainability environmental, social and economic issues. Some time the boundaries between the issues are not very clear and some criteria may belong into more than one issue. In this case the criterion was assigned to the issue where the impact is major. All the comfort related criteria have been considered as „social” because dealing with the human being and not with the environment;
  • list of criteria per weight. This information allows evidencing the most important criteria in the tool. The weight of each criterion has been calculated from the weights distribution or number of points/credits available for the criterion.
  • Certification process. The analysis regards the structure of the certification process, the actors involved and the costs;
  • Outputs. A description/sample of the final result delivered at the end of the certification process (statement, letter, label, etc.);
  • Legislation. The link of the assessment tool to regulations, technical standards

Environmental labels description

See the following sections:

Protocollo ITACA Regione Piemonte (Italy)

LEED Italia (Italy)

Casaclima Nature (Italy)

DGNB (Germany)

BDM (France)

HQE (France)

Total Quality Building (Austria)

Minergie P-Eco (Switzerland)

Comparison of environmental lables

Here, the main results of the transnational comparison study are illustrated. Comparison tables have been developed to describe the results with regard to the elements evaluated:

1. Users

2. Physical boundaries

3. Time boundaries

4. Building uses

5. Key data: structure of the assessment systems

6. Key criteria in the assessment systems

7. Certification process

8. Legislation

ENERBUILD tool and existing labels

Go to ENERBUILD tool


Results on ENERBUILD tool

The transnational comparison of main the existing labels shows the absence of a common approach and the impossibility to compare the assessment results produced by the different tools. The scenario appears very confused.

The main critical issues that emerged from the study are:

  • very different structures of the assessment tools;
  • different assessment methods: coexistence of performance based and strategy based tools;
  • different issues included in the tools;
  • different ways to score the performance.

On the other hand, there is a convergence regarding the potential users, the physical and time boundaries, the building uses that are possible to assess.

These substantial differences between the assessment systems are not facilitating their wide diffusion at the European level. Common public policies and common market actions would need a common reference certification.

The first steps toward the needed harmonization of the sustainability certification systems should be:

  • to define common principles regarding building sustainability certification;
  • to define a core of common criteria and indicators that would allow a comparison between the performances of buildings certified with different labels.

The first point concerns the need to agree for instance about the sustainability issues that should be taken in account, the assessment methodology, the contextualization procedures and the structure of tools. The second point means that it would be necessary to identify at European level a common set of key criteria (and relative indicators) that should be adopted by the national/regionals labels in the way to allow the comparison of buildings performance.

In this sense an interregional tool like Enerbuild Tool can play a key role. Enerbuild Tool is already a synthesis of the most important building assessment criteria in the Alpine region, having been recognized by all the project partners. From Enerbuild Tool it would be possible to extract the most significant indicators that could be part of the European common set. It would be fundamental to activate an interaction with other European projects that have similar objectives than Enerbuild and focused on different geographical areas in the way to define a consensus based set of core criteria applicable and significant for all Europe.

The European regions have the opportunity to play a key role to facilitate a harmonization of certification systems.

To reach this objective it would be necessary to implement a common platform between the European regions with the objective to follow in the definition of a common approach to environmental building certification and to promote the harmonization of certification systems.

Comparison between ENERBUILD criteria and LEED credits

The criteria of the ENERBUILD tool, which was established within the ENERBUILD project were compared with the LEED certification program. The findings are summarized here. The ENERBUILD tool criteria have been applied.

Assessment criteria of ENERBUILD tool

An explanation of the assessment process: Main article on ENERBUILD tool

Name Maximum points
A Quality of location and facilities 100
B Process and Planning Quality 200
C Energy and Utilities 350
D Health and Comfort 250
E Building Materials and construction 200

Assessment credits of LEED

There are seven categories in the new release of LEED® (LEED 2009) including:

  • Sustainable Sites (SS)
  • Water Efficiency (WE)
  • Energy and Atmosphere (EA)
  • Materials and Resources (MR)
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
  • Innovation in Design (ID)
  • Regional Priority (RP).

Summary and findings of comparison

A Quality of location and facilities
A1 Access to public transport network

Leed evaluation process requires easy access to public transportation through SS Credit 4.1 „Alternative Transportation: Public Transportation Access”. To get this criterion, Leed and ENERBUILD evaluations use very similar approaches; both require placing the project near an existing public bus or train stop. However, compared to Leed certification, ENERBUILD evaluation process also requires a transport minimum hourly frequency.

There is no direct correspondence between LEED credits and ENERBUILD A2 criterion. However, it is possible to calculate area‘s ecological index by Leed certification, and in particular through SS Credit 1 „Site Selection„ and through SS Credit 2 „Density & Community Connectivity”.

B Process and planning quality
B1 Decision making and determination of goals
B2 Formulation of verifiable objectives for energetic and ecological measures

Decision making is defined by Leed evaluation process through an initial diagram and through two reports („Basis Of Design”, BOD, and „Owner’s Project Requirements”, OPR, defined by EA Prerequisite 1, „Fundamental Commissioning of the Building”) that contain the objectives to be pursued. Checklist is also a Leed tool which allows to evaluate the project team‘s choices and to get B1 and B2 ENERBUILD Criteria. In particular, for credit B1 assessment important criteria are SSPr1, SSPr2, SSC2, SSC4, SSC5 into the SS Section „Sustainable Sites“, criteria EAPr2, EAC1 into the EA Section „Energy and Atmosphere„, criteria MR C4, MRC 5, MRC6 into the MR Section „Materials and resources„ and IEQ Criterion 4 into the EQ Section „Indoor Environmental Quality“.

B2 credit is met by two Leed reports – BOD and OPR – defined respectively by the owner and by the design team. These tools are a necessary prerequisite for Leed certification and so B2 criterion is always get. B2.3 Photovoltaic system

The ENERBUILD criterion is comparable to EA Credit 2 „On-site Renewable Energy“. However, Leed criterion aims at increasing not only photovoltaic energy, but all renewable such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and bio-gas energy.

B Process and planning quality
B3 Standardized calculation of the economic efficiency
B4 Product-management - Use of low-emission products

Product management is defined into the MR Section „Materials and Resources“ and into the EQ Section„ Indoor Environmental Quality“ through different criteria. In particular, Leed evaluation process requires to use materials with recycled content, rapidly renewable and regional as defined, respectively, by MR Criterion 4, C5 and C6.

However, Leed evaluation process requires full documentation of all materials used but it requires Low-Emitting Materials only for building‘s interior and in particular, for adhesives and sealants, paints, and coating, carpet systems composite wood, agrifiber products (and according to the manual „Leed for School„, furniture ) as required by Credits 4.1, C4.2, C4.3, C4.4 into the EQ Section.

Therefore, although the correlation between Leed evaluation and credit B4 is not direct, it is possible to compare these two protocols and ENERBUILD criterion B4 is get if all Leed criteria have been tried.

B Process and planning quality
B5 Planning support for energetic optimization

B5 criterion requires satisfying the following conditions (each associated with 5 points):

  • design by specifying destination, size, frequency and intensity of use of the rooms, and their internal temperatures. This criterion is quite similar to Leed Credit EA1, because building energy simulation requires the same information;
  • design of air flow room according to hygiene requirements, as required into the EQ Section, „Indoor Environmental Quality”, and in particular by EQPr1 (that requires to establish minimum indoor air quality);
  • identification of internal heat sources, condition necessary to develop building energy

Summary and Findings of 46 Pilot Evaluations Comparison between ENERBUILD criteria and Leed credits by Trento ENERBUILD: Final Result 6.2-4 Page 43 of 51 ENERBUILD Tool: Transnational Pilot Testing on 46 Buildings and Experiences on Advisory Services simulation and so condition already required by Leed Credit EA1;

  • calculation of thermal bridges by means of a default value of 0.03 W / (m2 K) and detailed verification of thermal bridges. There is no correspondence to Leed certification system;
  • description of energy parameters in the contract, as required by Leed EA Pr1;
  • verification of energy aspects of the tenders with the requirements of the contract, condition satisfied because it gets EA Prerequisite 1;
  • visits to the site to support local management about energy issues, required also by Credit EA C5;
  • provide to conduct the Blower Door test, that is an option required by Leed certification just in case of residential buildings, through EQ Prerequisite 2 (Option 3);
  • measure of ventilation system, as required by Leed evaluation with EA Credit 1;
  • hydraulic balancing of the heating, as required by Leed EA Credit 1;
  • update of the calculations of energy requirements at the end of the construction and conduct a blower door test as final control. This criterion get Leed EA Credit 1;
  • verification of energy requirements at the end of the work, as required by Leed EA Credit 5 „Measuring and verification”.

B Process and planning quality
B6 Information for users

Leed evaluation process requires developing an usage and operating manual just if you want to get the EA Credit 3 „Enhanced Commissioning“. So, its development – very rare – depends on project team’s choice, on building’s complexity and on its destination.

C Energy & Utilities
C1 Specific heating demand (PHPP)
C2 Specific cooling demand (PHPP)
C3 Primary energy demand (PHPP)

Section C on the energy requirements (C1, C2, C3) can not be compared directly with EA Leed section „Energy and Atmosphere“. In fact, ENERBUILD certification system requires an analysis developed by using PHPP software, whereas Leed evaluation process just requires (EA C1) to observe the minimum prescriptive measures. Also, if you want to obtain the maximum score, Leed requires to develop a dynamic simulation ( EA C1, Option 2) that involves comparison of the building with a basic model defined by prescriptive measures ( ASHRAE 90.1.2007 norm, Appendix G).

D Health and Comfort
D1 Thermal comfort in summer

Although into the EQ Leed section credits EQ C7.2 and EQ C7.1 define all the requirements for summer thermal comfort, it is necessary to use PHPP software to calculate value h0 (percentage overshoot the maximum allowable temperature in summer) required by ENERBUILD certification system. Therefore, D1 ENERBUILD criterion doesn’t find a match with Leed certification.

D Health and Comfort
D2 Ventilation – non energetic aspects

Leed evaluation process defines the requirements for sound insulation just when the building is a school. Again, however, there is no correspondence to ENERBUILD evaluation process: Leed certification requires to achieve in classrooms a background noise up to a maximum level of 45 dBA, equivalent to standards required by ANSI S12.60/2002 (EQ Pr3); instead, ENERBUILD requires not only a background up to a maximum level of 30 dBA, but also that sound pressure level (not exceeding 20 dB) is evaluated with the weighting curve „C“. In particular, this second aspect is not considered by Leed evaluation process and so these two evaluation processes are not comparable.

D Health and Comfort
D3 Daylight optimized (+ lightening optimized)

D3 criterion is similar to Leed EQ Credit 8.1 „Daylight and views“. However, Leed certification considers only regularly occupied spaces, and it requires daylight factor up to a maximum percentage of 2% in 75% of these spaces, while according to ENERBUILD certification this factor has to be as possible equal to 5%, and superior to 2%, calculated on entire area.

E Building materials and construction
E1 OI3TGH-lc ecological index of the thermal building envelope (respectively OI3 of the total mass of the building).

Although the Leed evaluation process rewards the use of ecological materials (MR C4, MR C5 and MR C6) Leed doesn‘t requires the calculation of ecological index of the thermal building envelope. So, ENERBUILD E1 criterion doesn‘t find a match with Leed certification system.


Arch. Andrea Moro

Regione Piemonte

Direzione Programmazione strategica, Politiche territoriali ed Edilizia

Via Lagrange 24, 0123 Torino

+39 011 432 38 07


Transnational comparison of instruments according to ecological evaluation of public buildings (2011)