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Worldwide certifications and labels

There are a large number of worldwide certifications and labels in the building industry. The main ones are listed below.

Certifications and labels in the building industry guarantee the tenant a certain level of quality and comfort. The certified homes have been designed and built to reduce their impact on the environment. Certifications are also a sign of performance that is often superior to that required by national regulations.


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

certifications-international-LEEDLEED is a system for evaluating the energy and environmental quality of new or renovated buildings. Developed in 1998 by the US Green Building Council, it is similar to the HQE (High Environmental Quality) in France. This certification ensures that the building has been designed to reduce its “ecological footprint”.

The evaluation must be carried out on the entire construction. It is based on different criteria for which the building is awarded points, so that it reaches one of four possible levels: certified, silver, gold or platinum. There are 7 main categories that are taken into account in the analysis:

    • Ecological development of the construction site
    • Energy and atmosphere
    • Materials and resources
    • Indoor environmental quality
    • Innovation and design processes
    • Regional credits
    • Water efficiency

The LEED standard is based on American standards, which can make it difficult to adapt to other countries. On the other hand, it remains the most widely used standard in the world.

According to the USGBC database, more than 98,000 buildings have already received LEED certification (renovation or new construction).

And in Portugal?

At the moment, few buildings are LEED certified in Portugal (3 new buildings in Covilha). Bureau Veritas makes the connection between the customer and the organization issuing the certificate (official USGBC entity).

BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method)

certifications-international-BREEAMBREEAM is a methodology for the environmental assessment of buildings developed in 1986 by the British private organization Building Research Establishment. 

This certification is used in more than 76 countries around the world and applied to thousands of construction projects. The evaluation can be carried out at different stages: from design to construction, including the life of the building or its renovation. 

The BREEAM standard evaluates the durability of a building through different categories which are as follows:

The assessment consists of allocating credits for each sub-category. There are several standards that adapt to the needs of each construction: Communities (applies to large-scale projects), Infrastructure (Civil Engineering and Public Works), New Construction, Renovation. Like LEED, it is possible to obtain different levels of certification: Certified, Good, Very Good, Excellent, Exceptional.

And in Portugal?

Forum Sintra shopping centre is the first building to have obtained the “good” level on the BREEAM scale in 2012. 

    • Energy
    • Health and Wellbeing
    • Innovation
    • Land Use
    • Materials
    • Management
    • Pollution
    • Transport
    • Waste
    • Water

HQE (High Environmental Quality)

certification-hqeHigh environmental quality is in fact a quality approach that dates back to 2002 with the objective  to build or renovate using materials and technologies that are more environmentally friendly throughout the life cycle of a building.

The standard of the HQE approach is based on 4 commitments:

    • Quality of life
    • Respect for the environment
    • Economic performance
    • Responsible management

Although it is a French methodology, buildings around the world have obtained HQE certification (none in Portugal).



WELL certification is the first building standard that is based exclusively on the health and well-being of human beings. The reference framework is based on seven axes:

Like LEED certification, there are three levels of performance: Silver, Gold and Platinum. For the moment, there are no certified projects in Portugal but there are already nearly 143 certified projects in the world.

    • Air
    • Water
    • Food
    • Light
    • Physical activity
    • Comfort
    • Spirit


worlwilde-certifications-certifications-internationalesThe NF HQE certification can be applied to any type of building (new construction or renovation). The certification requirements are structured around 4 themes:

Minimum performance requirements are also required and there are four possible levels of certification: Good – Very Good – Excellent – Exceptional.

    • Energy
    • Environment
    • Comfort
    • Health


Effinergie (Energy efficiency and comfort in buildings)

international-certification-effinergieEffinergie is a collective created in 2006 in France that seeks to orient construction towards sustainability and energy performance. It is at the origin of several labels that have made it possible to generalize new low-energy buildings in France:

          • BBC Effinergie 2017
          • BEPOS & BEPOS+ Effinergie 2017
          • Effinergie Renovation


labels-international-minergie- building industryMinergie is a Swiss construction label dedicated to building comfort, energy efficiency and maintaining the value of real estate assets. The label applies to new and renovated buildings, as well as residential and service buildings. Minergie buildings are characterized by low energy needs and favor renewable energies over fossil fuels. However, the label does not impose any construction method or choice of materials. There are three main labels and supplements. 

  • Minergie  : It is intended for buildings whose requirements exceed national regulations in terms of quality, comfort and energy. The label also requires a minimum self-generation of electricity, very good airtightness and controlled air renewal. 
  • Minergie-P  : it is designed for very low consumption buildings. 
  • Minergie-A  : it is intended for energy independent buildings, i.e. capable of producing energy, sufficient to cover their own needs. 
  • ECO complement  : complement that integrates aspects related to the health and ecology of construction through more than 70 criteria. 
  • SQM Construction Certificate  : applies to the construction phase and guarantees superior quality. It is proposed for buildings that hold a provisional Minergie, Minergie-P or Minergie-A certification. 
  • SQM Operating Certificate  : for optimizations during the building’s operating phase on aspects related to energy efficiency and comfort. 

BBCA (Low Carbon Building)

label-international-bbca - building industryThe BBCA (Bâtiment Bas Carbone in French) applies to new or renovated buildings and attests to the exemplary nature of a building in terms of its carbon footprint.

It highlights all the low-carbon approaches:

            • Intelligent mixing of materials
            • Low-carbon energy
            • Use of bio-sourced materials
            • Selective deconstruction
            • Reuse of waste…

There are three levels based on a point system (1 point = 10 kg of CO2 avoided or stored): BBCA standard, performance and excellence. The label can be issued either at design or at delivery.

Passivhaus Label

passivhaus-label- building industryPassivhaus label is a German label for the energy performance of buildings. It is a global construction concept whose main objective is to do without conventional heating. For more details on passive constructions, see the page dedicated to passive constructions.

Biosourced Building Label

The bio-sourced building label promotes the environmental performance of different types of buildings. The label is only accessible if it is associated with a certification (example: NF HQE certification). The building must be partly made of bio-sourced materials, i. e. from vegetable or animal biomass (e. g. wood, hemp, straw, feathers, sheep’s wool). A minimum threshold for the incorporation of these materials into the materials building must be met.