CORE Green Building Certification

CORE Green Building Certification

This year’s LF20 Conference offered a session discussing ILFI’s CORE Green Building Certification. Given that our clients often struggle with the topic of sustainability certifications, we pay extra attention to new offerings from groups such as ILFI. The primary issue that many clients face is whether to invest their limited resources into fees and "point-chasing" or "buying points" to obtain a desired certification, or to spend that time and money on targeted areas of their choosing to address their sustainability priorities.

There are distinct benefits to obtaining a certification, but it is not always clear if they offer a favorable return on investment. Besides the reputational boost from obtaining a certification, the primary advantage to getting a certification is the verification by a third party that a project has met the goals it set out for itself. One of the most rigorous third-party certifications is the well-known Living Building Challenge, which requires a project to be Net-Zero energy, Net-Zero in water use and disposal, and meet stringent criteria for materials use. This is a very high bar to pass, and to expand their impact the ILFI has created several “stepping-stone” certifications.

ILFI's CORE Green Building Certification is for organizations who find other ILFI certifications too complex or bureaucratic. It is for organizations that want accountability and recognition for acting on climate change and health issues. For this, CORE relies on measured, validated, post-occupancy data.

CORE is intended to be simple to use and communicate, and easy to apply to the design process. Flexible implementation, not a rigid checklist. CORE is for organizations that want to demonstrate leadership on climate change and deliver on their public commitments.

How does it work? There are 7 Petals (categories) of criteria, each with Imperatives (requirements) that need to be addressed. These Petals match up with the Living Building Challenge, and the certification is structured so that a project may move up or down between the two certifications based on how the design process goes. The CORE certification is a way to resolve the problem of a project tackling the Living Building Challenge coming up empty-handed if they fall short on one or two criteria.

Notable criteria include:

  • Reducing water consumption 50% from a baseline building
  • No potable water to be used for irrigation
  • No combustion appliances or equipment allowed in new construction
  • 20% (by value) of building materials to come from within 500 km of the project site.
  • 50% of wood products must be FSC certified or reclaimed.
  • Two project team members need to be JUST Label certified (Holst is!)
  • The project must commit to inclusive contracting: 20% design and/or construction value must go to firms with MBE, WBE, DBE, or SDVBE certifications.

It seems like a wise choice by the ILFI to offer a certification that can compete more directly with USGBC’s LEED, without betraying their very ambitious goals for sustainable construction. I hope that Holst will be able to work on a CORE Green Building Certified project soon!

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