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Sustainability and Green Construction Standards

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, engineer, mother of 2, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


Sustainability and environmentally friendly construction are not mere bywords; a whole host of standards for materials, construction methods and traceability exist to ensure that materials are eco-friendly, waste is minimized and safety standards are met. Green construction standards have been issued by groups from the ISO to ASTM to LEEDs.

What are some of the leading sustainable building standards?

Green building construction focuses on high energy efficiency, low power usage, using recycled materials where possible, using as little material as possible and doing so without compromising safety.
Green building construction focuses on high energy efficiency, low power usage, using recycled materials where possible, using as little material as possible and doing so without compromising safety. | Source

ASTM Sustainability Standards

ASTM E2773 is the standard specification for selecting sustainable food and beverages. ASTM E2743 gives the selection criteria for sustainable transportation. ASTM E2747 is the standard for selecting sites for sustainable meetings and events.

ASTM E2741 gives the approved method of identifying and selecting destinations when holding sustainable events and trade shows.

ASTM E2745 describes how to select environmentally sustainable audiovisual and production equipment. ASTM E2772 is the guide for finding sustainable accommodations. ASTM E2432 describes the general principles for sustainable buildings.

ASTM E2114 gives the standard terms and definitions used to describe sustainable buildings.
ASTM E2129 is the standard for collecting data to determine the sustainability of building products. ASTM E2728 gives guidance on water stewardship in designing, building and operating buildings.

ISO Sustainability Standards

ISO 21929-1 gives the framework for developing indicators to measure the sustainability of construction of new buildings.
ISO 10987 gives the factors and reporting to be used regarding the sustainability of earth moving machinery.
ISO 20121 describes the requirements for event sustainability management systems.
ISO 14006 outlines how to incorporate green design into environmental management systems.

NSF Sustainability Standards

NSF BIFMA E3 is the ANSI approved furniture sustainability standard.
NSF 336 is the ANSI approved standard for assessing the sustainability of fabric used in commercial furnishings like chairs. NSF 336 must be used along with NSF standard 170.
NSF 347 outlines how to perform a sustainability assessment of single ply roofing membranes. NSF 347 is ANSI approved.
NSF 140 outlines how to perform a sustainability assessment on carpet. NSF 332 is the standard for resilient floor coverings like rubber mats.

Military Standards for Sustainability

The military does not have its own specifications for green construction. The U.S. Navy uses UFGS-01 33 29 to explain its application to the military. However, AR 700-138 is an Army document on logistics readiness and sustainability. The latest version came out in 2004.

The IEEE has focused on development of the smart grid and altering the grid so that it can handle more renewable power.
The IEEE has focused on development of the smart grid and altering the grid so that it can handle more renewable power. | Source

IEEE Standards for Sustainability

The IEEE has not yet issued standards directly related to sustainability, though it has issued standards for an electric smart grid.

IEEE project P1595 is a standard for determining when a project is considered a green energy project, its proper classification and quantifying the overall benefit of the project. IEEE P1595 is under the CCTSC working group.

ISO Standards for Green Construction

ISO IWA 9 gives the framework for managing sustainable development in business areas. Published in 2011, it addresses the environmental and economic factors to be considered when redeveloping or rebuilding a business district to be more eco-friendly.It also gives methods to measure the performance of old and new green construction projects. ISO IWA 9 incorporates ISO 26000 environmental standards and ISO 15392.

ISO 15392 gives the general principles of sustainable construction. Related standard, ISO 21929-1, outlines the sustainability indicators for green building construction.

ASHRAE Standards for Green Construction and Green Buildings

ASHRAE 189.1 is the ASHRAE standard for designing green buildings except for low rise residential ones.

ASHRAE 90544 gives a list of tips for designing data centers to minimize their power and air conditioning needs.

ASHRAE 90436 gives guidance on dramatically reducing the energy needs of small warehouses. ASHRAE 90432 is a design guide for saving at least 30% on energy costs and building an structure that has "net zero" energy usage because it can run entirely off of nearby renewable power sources.

ASHRAE LO-09-076 describes the laboratory experiments used to determine how plants reduce heat flux through green roofs, essentially measuring their insulating qualities. ASHRAE LO-09-055 describes how to improve the energy efficiency of air filters.

NRCA Standards for Green Construction

The National Roofing Contractors Association or NRCA publication 3757 addresses both green roof construction and maintenance. NRCA 3761 is titled, "The Green Roof Manual: A Professional Guide to Design, Installation and Maintenance."

BRE Green Construction Standards

Building Research Establishment Limited or BRE EP47 published its own guidance on green roofs and facades. Facades cover the side of a building.

Building Research Establishment Limited or BRE has published its own "Green Guide to Specification". The fourth edition came out in 2009.

BRE EP99 outlines the requirements for sustainable masonry construction.

BRE FB16 gives guidance on whether a structure should be refurbished or replaced to make it eco-friendly. BRE FB14 is specific to refurbishing Victorian housing units.

ASTM Standards for Green Roofs

ASTM E2400 gives the ASTM's guidance on selecting, installing and maintaining plants used on a green roof, also called vegetative roof systems. This standard came out in 2006.
ASTM E2399 is the standard method of determining the maximum media density when performing dead load analysis for green roofs. ASTM E2397 is the standard for calculating the dead loads and live loads for green roofs.

ASTM E2788 gives the specification for expanded shale, clay and slate (or ECS for short) used as both growing media and as a drainage layer on green roofs.
ASTM E2432 gives the general principles for sustainable buildings. This standard applies to structures with and without green roofs.

Related Resources

The Construction Specifications Institute published a "CSI Green Roof Systems" document that describes how to plan, design and build green roofs.

ICC IGCC is the International Green Construction Code. The U.S. Green Building Council or USGBC developed the LEED set of building codes. There is a LEED GBDC or green building design and construction guide for general reference and for retail. There are supplements for healthcare facilities and schools. LEED Homes is a reference for residential construction. LEED CS refers to cores and shells of buildings.

LEED has several rating systems. The LEED CI rating system applies to commercial interiors. LEED NC is specific to new construction. LEED HC is the rating system for healthcare facilities. LEED CS is the rating system for the cores and shells of buildings.


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