From Platinum to Three Stars: Comparative Analysis of U.S. and China Green Building Rating Programs

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Conference Paper

Date Published




In 2011, the building sector in U.S. and China, the two largest global energy users and CO2 emitters, consumed 40% and 25% of national total energy, respectively. Within the building energy efficiency realm, green buildings are emerging as a way to help reduce buildings' energy and environmental impacts. To promote the market transformation of green buildings and differentiate design and performance, U.S. and China have both developed national green building rating programs and supporting policies. The U.S. Green Building Council established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program in 1998 while the Chinese government established its Green Building Evaluation and Labeling (GBEL) program in 2008. This paper presents comparative analysis of the U.S. LEED and Chinese GBEL rating systems, processes, scoring systems, and enabling policies.

This paper finds that while both countries use green building design and operational rating systems with similar scoring categories, they differ in program administration, scoring requirements and allocation, and types of supporting policies. U.S. LEED is developed and administered by committees of building industry stakeholders and offers more flexibility in how certification levels can be met. The Chinese GBEL is entirely government-run with stricter requirements for achieving rating levels, but is expected to undergo changes with a revised rating system in late 2014. Analysis of how similarities and differences in rating systems and supporting policies have shaped the technical and market development of green buildings is presented. Subsequent challenges and policy implications for the future development of green buildings are discussed.


2014 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

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