Building Standards & Certifications

Total Resource Use and Efficiency Certification

In 2016, the United States Zero Waste Business Council, which had a certification program for zero waste facilities and professionals, joined forces with the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Previously called Zero Waste Facility Certification, TRUE—short for Total Resource Use and Efficiency—is certified under the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), the body that also certifies LEED. TRUE credits are aligned with LEED v4 credit requirements for Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M). The organizations are working to streamline other LEED and TRUE credits.

TRUE defines “zero waste” as the international Zero Waste International Alliance does: “no waste to landfill, incineration and the environment.” (See What Is Zero Waste?)

Requirements for certification include the following:

  • A zero waste policy is in place.
  • At least 90% overall diversion from landfill and incineration for nonhazardous wastes.
  • Diverted materials are reduced, reused, recycled, composted and/or recovered for productive use in nature or the economy.
  • When leaving a company site, each material cannot exceed 10% contamination.

Credits are extensive and involve all aspects of the material cycle. The 15 credit categories— Redesign, Reduce, Reuse, Compost (ReEarth), Recycle, Zero Waste Reporting, Diversion from landfill, incineration and environment (90%–100%), Zero Waste Purchasing, Leadership, Training, Zero Waste Analysis, Upstream Management, Hazardous Waste Prevention, Closed Loop and Innovation—and a total of 81 points. The four certification levels are, from lowest to highest, Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Living Building Challenge

A program of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the Living Building Challenge calls itself a “philosophy, certification and advocacy tool for projects to move beyond merely being less bad and to become truly regenerative.” Along with requiring net-positive energy and water, it has a petal for net-positive waste. A project team is required to create a Materials Conservation Management plan that explains how the project optimizes materials in design, construction, operation and end-of-life phases. It requires 80%–100% diversion of on-site C&D materials, and dedicated infrastructure for the collection of “recyclable and compostable food scraps.” It also requires attention to be paid to the durability of the products composing the building and an end-of-life plan for adaptable reuse and deconstruction. See ILFI.


Next Section: LEED v4 Waste Management Credits →