Sustainable house and sustainability certifications


Demand for sustainable homes continues to rise in many first world countries, especially in Europe and North America.

Without a doubt, the construction sector is undergoing a great transformation and some experts agree that this trend will continue in the long term.

The world is changing, and so are the housing needs of millions of people around the world.

Furthermore, one cannot underestimate the effort that many professionals in the architectural field are making to promote greater awareness regarding habitability and environmental care.

It is no longer just about promoting large-scale works, but about understanding architecture as a whole that cannot be separated from the ecological awakening.

Sustainable houses are architectural jewels. You just have to make sure you work with a team of professionals who can materialize your dreams without leaving a harmful footprint on the environment.


The sustainable houses They are mainly based on bioclimatic design. This means taking advantage of natural light and energy in a more ethical way, efficient and responsible.

They are extremely comfortable for their inhabitants, and their construction does not put the environment at risk, nor does it compromise the resources of new generations.

This type of housing takes into consideration many social and environmental elements during the design and construction phases.

One of the main goals of these houses is to minimize the impact of the construction on the environment and reduce energy consumption to its minimum expression.

Additionally, the entire construction process must be taken care of, as well as the materials used throughout the new construction project.

The sustainable house also has very specific characteristics and advantages. The most notable are:

  • Location and orientation.
  • Use of clean and renewable energy.
  • Optimal ventilation system.
  • Habitability.
  • Energy savings.

Together, they seek optimize energy consumption in the home and take advantage of its natural energy sources in a fair and responsible way.


For a house to be classified as “sustainable” it must have a sustainability assessment and certification seal.

Currently there are very renowned certifications, such as the LEED, BREEAM and VERDE Certification.

Below we will share them with you in detail. That way you can better understand their peculiarities, differences and advantages.

1. LEED Certification

He leadership in ANDenergy and ANDenvironmental ddesign (LEED), is a Sustainability evaluation and certification system which was developed by US Green Building Council (USGBC) in the United States.

Its origin dates back to 1994, specifically in the city of San Francisco, and its methodology is based on strategies that facilitate obtaining credits to apply to the system.

These credits are classified by categories and each of them is related to the impact they could cause on an environmental scale.

It is important to note that LEED building certification can only be carried out by the United States Green Building Council.

Today this certification enjoys international recognition and has become the most comprehensive evaluation system for sustainable buildings in the world.

In fact, it covers more than 80,000 projects in almost 162 countries and since its inception has shown significant and leading evolution.

Benefits of the LEED seal

Buildings that have LEED certification have multiple benefits, including those listed below:

  • They promote energy savings in depth.
  • They offer access to tax incentives.
  • They reduce gas emissions greenhouse effect.
  • They increase the value of their assets.
  • They minimize costs operation and waste.
  • These spaces are better conditioned (from a productivity and health point of view).

This seal is widely requested by construction companies, developers and governments worldwide, as it provides multiple attractions and benefits to their buildings.

Likewise, it should be mentioned that there are several systems that support LEED certification.

The most common are LEED Rating System, LEED Building Design and Construction and Major Renovations, LEED Core and Shell and LEED Homes.

Process to obtain this certification

These are the steps to follow for a sustainable project to obtain a LEED certification:

  • Validate the program requirements.
  • Select the corresponding LEED System.
  • Register the project (via LEED On-line).
  • Apply for certification.
  • Do a preliminary and final review.
  • Get the seal.

In Spain it is well known that GBCe and Spain GBC promote LEED certification with emphasis and commitment.

2. BREEAM Certification

sustainable house

This sustainability evaluation and certification system was developed by BRE Global, in the United Kingdom, and its creation dates back to 1988.

In Spain the adaptation of the seal Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodologyand (BREEAM), is in charge of the Technological Institute of Galicia Foundation.

To obtain this seal it is necessary to contact an advisor recognized by BREEAM, since this is responsible for the registration, monitoring and evaluation process.

It is necessary to emphasize that this professional must have a current license and have the endorsement of the National Global Accreditation Entity.

This seal has expanded to more than 60 countries and is currently more than 592,000 buildings have this certification on an international scale.

Schemes of this certification

On the other hand, you should know that BREEAM has several schemes, such as BREEAM:

  • New construction: for new construction, expansion, rehabilitation or conditioning projects.
  • In use: to evaluate properties that have been in operation for at least two years.
  • Town planning: to evaluate the sustainability of urban projects in cities or neighborhoods.
  • Living place: It serves to assess the sustainability of single-family homes.
  • Custom made: subject to assessments of unique buildings.

With this certification it is possible measure the degree of environmental sustainability of the buildings, and the truth is that there are several certificates: A, B, C, D, E, F and G.

Its methodology consists of a point system that evaluates the characteristics of buildings in their phases of:

  • Design.
  • Construction.
  • Maintenance.
  • Conditioning.
  • Restoration.

Additionally, buildings are classified based on a system of credits that are part of nine categories.

BREEAM benefits

Buildings that have a BREEAM certificate provide great benefits, such as:

  • Reduction of energy consumption (up to 70%)
  • Less water consumption (by 40%)
  • Building maintenance and operation expenses are minimized.
  • The occupancy rate of these properties can grow by 3.5%
  • Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions throughout the useful life of the building.
  • The buildings offer you a greater comfort and safety to their owners. In fact, your quality of life experiences an invaluable improvement.

3. GREEN Certification

The Building Reference Efficiency Assessment (VERDE) was developed in Spain by the GBC Technical Committee, together with the ABIO-UPM Research Group and other companies and institutions associated with GBC Spain.

In 2002, GBCe It began to operate under the Ministry of Development in Spanish territory. Furthermore, it should be noted that it is affiliated with the International World Building Council.

The methodology of this sustainable housing certificationor sustainable buildings, is summarized in a sustainability evaluation system.

This evaluation is carried out at three levels: pre-design, design and construction, and use and end of life of the building.

Right now GBC Spain is responsible for supervising the documentation presented by the evaluator and subsequently resolves the decision made.

Structure of this certification

The system is framed in important categories, such as those presented below:

  • Plot and location.
  • Energy and atmosphere.
  • Natural resources.
  • Quality of the indoor environment.
  • Quality of service.
  • Economic and social aspects.

Each of them has an associated reference score (ranging between 0 and 5). So the final value is obtained after weighing the reduced impacts compared to the reference building.

This performance method conforms to the philosophy of the Technical Building Code (CTE) and also to important European directives.

On the other hand, VERDE certification has several schemes depending on the use of the building: VERDE NE Residential and Offices, VERDE NE Equipment, VERDE NE Single Family, VERDE RH Residential and VERDE RH Equipment.

“NE” refers to a “New Building“, while “RH” refers to “Rehabilitation”.

In short, this seal compares the reduction of the environmental impact of the evaluated building with the model building. And then it assigns six levels of certification.

Therefore, each level has a percentage reduction in environmental impact.

Benefits of this certification
  • Promotes recycling in the construction sector. This is because it is based on Life Cycle Analysis.
  • Take many factors into account social, environmental and economic, and if that were not enough, it promotes a balance between them.
  • Facilitates the incorporation of technological improvements in equipment, materials and construction systems.
  • He is able to adjust to the economyto the environment and to society, since it takes into consideration both regulations and local culture.
  • Users can Improve your quality of life at a lower cost.
  • Promotes the sustainable innovations.
  • Encourage energy savings and the efficient use of renewable energies.
  • Reduces exposure to unhealthy substances (buildings with a GREEN certification are more beneficial for human health).


The sustainable house is intrinsically related to sustainability, respect for the environment and improvements in the standard of living of its owners.

They also maintain a firm commitment to social, technological, local, and economic development from countries where they are experiencing high demand (including Spain).

In fact, the efforts made by the Green Building Council Spain (GBCe), to promote the transformation of the architectural sector.

The idea is that the new buildings are framed in sustainable criteria, or in elements that are compatible with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In summary, if you live in Spain and would like to know more about this topic, do not hesitate to contact CMYK Architects.

Its team of professionals will answer your questions and concerns promptly, ethically and with impeccable professionalism.

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