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Environmental Certifications: Focus on ASEAN

In recent years, labels and certifications promoting environmental best practices in the construction industry have been growing worldwide. In this article, we will explore six certifications: LEED, TREES, LOTUS, EDGE, Greenmark, Greenship and Berde, shedding light on their characteristics and significance in the sustainable construction sector.

LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Started in 1993, LEED is an American certification that has gained popularity in ASEAN and focuses on sustainability, energy efficiency, and the social responsibility of buildings.

LEED is recognized in 132 countries and is the world's most widely accepted building environmental assessment system, with a large number of certified buildings. It relies on a holistic evaluation of a building's impacts, from its influence on human health to its impact on the surrounding environment.

The certification applies to new constructions, renovations, operational buildings, as well as specific building components such as the envelope, structure, and interior architecture. This certification can also be used to assess the environmental performance of neighborhoods or communities as well.

It offers several guides and rating systems tailored to various types of buildings, including hotels, hospitals, residences, offices, schools, logistics centers, data centers, and retail establishments.

LEED is structured around 8 categories divided into 58 prerequisites and credits:

1. Site.

2. Transportation and Location.

3. Water management.

4. Energy management.

5. Indoor Environmental Quality.

6. Materials.

7. Innovations.

8. Regional Priorities.

TREES - Thailand's Rating of Energy and Environmental Sustainability

Referring to LEED as a prototype, TREES is currently one of the most recognized green building standards in Thailand, with LEED. Thai Green Building Institute (TGBI) launched TREES as a rating system that would help guide the construction industry to design and construct architecture that is environmentally friendly.

TREES is designed suitably for various building types, both new buildings and existing buildings, and mainly focus on new construction building, or major renovation. Similar to LEED, TREES is a quantifiable score-driven rating system with 4 certification levels including Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

TREES has 8 assessment sections :

  • Building Management

  • Site and Landscape

  • Water Conservation

  • Energy and Atmosphere

  • Materials and Resources

  • Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Environmental Protection

  • Green Innovation


Launched in Vietnam, LOTUS provides a holistic assessment of environmental performance over the life cycle of buildings. LOTUS Certification consists of four levels of certification such as Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum, based on the number of points a project is awarded.

LOTUS now cover almost all building types and project scopes, including:

  • LOTUS NC v3, for new construction or major renovation project with Gross Floor Area from 2500 m2 and above

  • LOTUS BIO, for buildings in operation

  • LOTUS Homes, for single-dwelling homes

  • LOTUS SB, for small non-housing projects, with Gross Floor Area less than 2500 m2

  • LOTUS Interiors, for interiors fit-out projects

  • LOTUS Small Interiors, for small interiors fit-out projects (Gross Floor Area less than 1000 m2)

LOTUS recognizes performance in 7 key areas :

  • Energy

  • Water

  • Materials & resources

  • Health & comfort

  • Site & environment

  • Project management

  • Exceptional performance (innovative strategies and ideas)

EDGE- Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies

Developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) institution, a member of the World Bank Group, EDGE promotes sustainable development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector.

Edge certification is based on three scopes:

  • energy : focuses on reducing the energy consumption of a building by implementing energy efficient design features and systems, such as high-efficiency HVAC systems, LED lighting, or solar panels.

  • water : focuses on reducing the amount of water used in a building by setting up water-saving technologies and systems like low-flow toilets and rainwater harvesting systems.

  • embodied carbon : aims to reduce the carbon footprint of a building by utilizing low-carbon materials.

EDGE offers three levels of certification: EDGE Standard, EDGE Advanced, and EDGE Excellence. To achieve certification, a building must demonstrate at least 20% improvement in energy and water efficiency, as well as a reduction in embodied energy in materials.


Launched in Singapore in 2005 by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Green Mark is a green building rating system to encourage sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of buildings.

Developers, building owners and government agencies for new and existing buildings, districts, parks, infrastructure and building interiors can receive a Green Mark certification for their project. Green Mark offers three levels of certification: Green Mark Certified, Green Mark Gold, and Green Mark Platinum.

Building owners can improve their Green Mark Certification by implementing sustainable building practices such as:

  1. Energy-efficient design

  2. Water-efficient design

  3. Use of environmentally friendly materials

  4. Enhanced indoor air quality


GREENSHIP is a certification system developed by Green Building Council Indonesia in 2009.

GREENSHIP can cover six types of certification, consisting:

  • New Building

  • Existing Building

  • Interior Space

  • Homes

  • Neighborhood

  • Net Zero Healthy

The certification system is using a point based system that is spread across six criterias : Appropriate Site Development, Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Water Conservation, Material Resources and Cycle, Indoor Health and Comfort, and also Building Environment Management.

By using GREENSHIP, the building can achieve different levels of achievement from bronze, silver, gold, and platinum certified buildings at the highest.


The BERDE Program was established by the Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC), in 2009. The Core Framework of BERDE consists of nine distinct sections in order to be considered a green building project.

They are the following:

  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation

  • Water Efficiency and Conservation

  • Waste Management

  • Management

  • Use of Land and Ecology

  • Green Materials

  • Transportation Health and Wellbeing Emissions

  • Community Engagement

  • Economic Opportunity

To be certified, an applicant must be able to achieve the minimum amount of credits required under each classification.

Differences Between EDGE and LOTUS and LEED

In terms of their overall operational approach, both Lotus and LEED are based on point-based systems, whereas EDGE relies on a performance-based design system. It should be noted that EDGE does not apply to interior designs, unlike Lotus and LEED, which also encompass this aspect. Additionally, LEED considers neighborhood and city development, which is not the case for Lotus and EDGE.

In terms of similarities, all three systems consider resource efficiency (water, energy, and material use). Only Lotus and LEED take occupant well-being into account by assessing indoor air quality and building occupant comfort. Another aspect missing in EDGE is environmental impact assessment, whereas Lotus and LEED consider location and transportation, negative site impacts, as well as waste and pollution management.

Finally, while Lotus and LEED focus on implementation and innovation, this aspect is lacking in EDGE.


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