Building Performance Standards and Certifications

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Building performance standards and certifications are frameworks and programs that establish benchmarks for energy efficiency, sustainability, and other aspects of building performance. These standards and certifications provide a way to measure and verify the performance of buildings, incentivize sustainable building practices, and promote transparency and accountability in the building industry.

Impact on climate action

Building Performance Standards and Certifications within Energy-Efficient Buildings advance climate action by setting benchmarks for energy efficiency and sustainability. By promoting efficient building design, construction, and operation, these standards reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions, and foster the development of sustainable infrastructure, mitigating climate change impacts.


  • Building Energy Modeling: Building energy modeling software is used to simulate and predict the energy performance of buildings, providing a basis for setting performance standards and evaluating building designs.
  • Performance Measurement and Verification: Standardized methods and protocols are used to measure and verify the actual performance of buildings, ensuring that they meet the requirements of the standards or certifications.
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): LCA is used to assess the environmental impacts of buildings throughout their entire lifecycle, from material extraction and construction to operation and end-of-life disposal.
  • Sustainability Metrics and Reporting: Building performance standards and certifications often require the use of sustainability metrics and reporting frameworks to track and disclose the environmental and social impacts of buildings.

TRL : 8-9

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Data-Driven Performance Standards: New performance standards are being developed that are based on actual building performance data, rather than theoretical models. This allows for more accurate and realistic benchmarks.
  • Performance-Based Building Codes: Some jurisdictions are implementing performance-based building codes that set performance targets for energy efficiency and other aspects of building performance, rather than prescribing specific technologies or design features.
  • Green Building Certifications: Various green building certification programs, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), are continuously evolving to incorporate new technologies and sustainability criteria.
  • Smart Building Technologies Integration: Building performance standards and certifications are increasingly recognizing the role of smart building technologies in improving energy efficiency and sustainability.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. IES (Integrated Environmental Solutions):
    • Technology Enhancement: IES provides software solutions for building performance analysis, simulation, and certification. Their tools enable architects, engineers, and building professionals to evaluate and optimize building designs for energy efficiency, sustainability, and occupant comfort. IES’s software integrates with Building Information Modeling (BIM) platforms and utilizes advanced simulation algorithms to assess various factors affecting building performance.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: IES stands out for its comprehensive approach to building performance analysis and certification. Their software solutions offer detailed insights into energy consumption, daylighting, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality, helping design teams make informed decisions to achieve green building certifications and comply with regulatory standards.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: IES serves architectural firms, engineering consultancies, construction companies, and building owners seeking to optimize building performance and achieve sustainability goals. Their software solutions are used in the design, construction, and operation of commercial, residential, and institutional buildings worldwide.
  2. cove.tool:
    • Technology Enhancement: cove.tool is a cloud-based platform for sustainable building design and performance optimization. Their software automates energy modeling, daylighting analysis, and life cycle cost assessments for architectural projects. cove.tool uses parametric design and optimization algorithms to explore various design options and identify strategies for improving building performance and reducing environmental impact.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: cove.tool stands out for its user-friendly interface and focus on streamlining sustainable design processes. Their platform empowers architects and designers to quickly evaluate the performance implications of design decisions and identify cost-effective strategies for achieving green building certifications such as LEED and Energy Star.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: cove.tool serves architects, designers, developers, and sustainability consultants involved in the design and construction of commercial and residential buildings. Their software helps design teams incorporate sustainable design principles into projects of all scales, from single-family homes to large-scale developments.
  3. Measurabl:
    • Technology Enhancement: Measurabl is a sustainability reporting and benchmarking platform for commercial real estate portfolios. Their software automates data collection, analysis, and reporting on energy, water, waste, and emissions performance. Measurabl integrates with building management systems and utility data sources to provide real-time insights and benchmarking against industry standards and peer portfolios.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Measurabl stands out for its focus on simplifying sustainability reporting and benchmarking for real estate investors and managers. Their platform streamlines the process of gathering and analyzing environmental data across diverse property portfolios, enabling stakeholders to track performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to improve sustainability outcomes.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Measurabl serves commercial real estate owners, operators, and investors seeking to manage and optimize sustainability performance across their property portfolios. Their software is used to streamline sustainability reporting, comply with regulatory requirements, and demonstrate environmental stewardship to tenants, investors, and other stakeholders.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL):
    • Research Focus: LBNL is a leader in research on Building Performance Standards and Certifications, focusing on developing robust frameworks, evaluation methodologies, and performance metrics to assess and improve the energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and environmental sustainability of buildings.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of energy modeling tools, simulation techniques, and building performance databases to quantify the energy savings potential and cost-effectiveness of various energy efficiency measures and technologies. They also collaborate with industry partners, policymakers, and standards organizations to establish voluntary and mandatory performance standards for buildings, appliances, and equipment.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work inform the development of building energy codes, green building certifications, and energy efficiency incentive programs. By promoting energy-efficient building design, construction, and operation, LBNL’s research contributes to reducing energy consumption, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing occupant comfort and well-being.
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL conducts cutting-edge research on Building Performance Standards and Certifications, leveraging its expertise in building science, renewable energy technologies, and data analytics to drive innovation in energy-efficient building design, operation, and management.
    • Uniqueness: Their research spans a wide range of topics, including building envelope performance, HVAC system optimization, daylighting strategies, and occupant behavior analysis. They employ advanced monitoring and modeling techniques, sensor networks, and machine learning algorithms to assess building energy performance, identify optimization opportunities, and validate compliance with energy codes and standards.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work support the development of high-performance building codes, green building rating systems, and energy efficiency retrofit programs. By providing technical guidance, best practices, and decision support tools to building owners, designers, and policymakers, NREL’s research facilitates the adoption of energy-efficient building practices and technologies, leading to reduced energy costs and environmental impacts.
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is engaged in innovative research on Building Performance Standards and Certifications, leveraging its interdisciplinary expertise in architecture, engineering, and environmental science to advance the science and practice of sustainable building design and operation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of performance-based design methodologies, building energy management systems, and occupant feedback mechanisms to optimize building performance across different climate zones, occupancy profiles, and usage patterns. They also explore the integration of renewable energy systems, energy storage technologies, and demand response strategies to enhance building resilience and adaptability to changing environmental conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in green building certification programs, net-zero energy buildings, and smart city initiatives. By pioneering innovative approaches to building performance assessment and optimization, MIT’s research contributes to creating healthier, more sustainable built environments that enhance human comfort, productivity, and quality of life.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Building performance standards and certifications are widely implemented around the world, with many governments and organizations adopting or developing their own standards and programs. For example, the city of New York has implemented a building energy efficiency grading system, while the European Union has established energy performance standards for buildings.