Are you certifiable?
By Brett Marlo DeSantis
It’s in our history and nature to award a decorative object as a sign of our success. Today, we give every child a ribbon because they gave it try. They practiced and participated. It’s showing up that takes the most effort, right? I’m currently a soccer mom, and I want a ribbon just for driving them to all the practices and games!
Trophies still go to those at the top of their game. They practiced hard, brought their A-game and are recognized for their outstanding achievements. It’s these high performers that become our role models and share their ideas, talent and ambitions which help us to see what’s possible and inspire us to go for it.
The built environment is much the same, except our ribbons and trophies resemble certifications, plaques, medals and Petals. And you too can get one, if you show up and participate. If you practice sustainable design strategies and Best Management Practices, you deserve credit!
Heck, if you go for the win and attain it, you deserve a trophy!
Speaking of wins and role models, go check out the Bullitt Center, the greenest commercial building in the world. It is located right here in Seattle and achieved Living Building Challenge certification.
“The goal of the Bullitt Center is to drive change in the marketplace faster and further by showing what’s possible today…As a society, we need to be bold in ways that were once unimaginable.”
Certifiable is genuine and authentic. And certifications are a road map for us to behave as role models. Simply put, certifications involve a formal procedure performed by an accredited third party. Here are a handful of third-party accredited green building certifications at a glance:
LBC, or the Living Building Challenge (locally based, applied worldwide): “a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that define the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and end-game positive solutions we seek. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.”
LBC is truly the most rigorous benchmark of sustainability in the built environment. It’s beyond Net Zero, in fact, it’s Net Positive. These buildings give back to our communities and environment.
BuiltGreen (locally based, applied state-wide): an environmentally-friendly, non-profit, residential building program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. These homes are designed and built to be resource-efficient, exceed current building codes and provide the owner with years of healthy, quality living, while also protecting our Northwest environment.
Salmon-safe (locally based, applied nationally): US certifier of ecologically sustainable sites. Salmon-safe believes if our salmon our healthy (and happy), then our water is clean, and in turn we are healthier (and happier.) This program offers a series of peer-reviewed certification programs that link best land management practices with the protection of our agricultural and urban watersheds. Thus they protect our water quality and restore our habitat.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (USA-based, applied worldwide): recognizes best-in-class green building strategies and practices. According to the United States Green Building Council, “LEED is transforming the way we think about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe.” There are four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
What do all of these certification programs have in common? They share our current value system within their philosophies. We, as a society, want healthier and higher standards and qualities of life for us and our children. We can find better ways to live that will satisfy us and provide for our good health and comfort.
From ribbons to trophies, and inspiration to certification: when we put our beliefs into action, we show the world what’s important to us. We choose to live in agreement with our values; only then we will be living a certifiably sustainable life.