Drawing the operating mechanisms of green building rating systems

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Green Building Rating and Certification systems (GBRSs) were developed to provide guidelines and benchmarking criteria for conducting sustainable building processes. Yet, they lack a ‘know how’ defining their role and value-contribution, which may eventually limit their role and affect their credibility and application in the decision-making process. Subsequently, this study presents its research hypothesis assuming two mechanisms and four scopes of operation; the rating mechanism operates using the guidelines and measurement metrics while the certification mechanism operates using the verification and certification metrics. The research has adopted an integrated qualitative and quantitative approach where the development of the four interrelated scopes of operation has been traced through literature, and an assigned score weighting has been used to compare them according to different GBRSs- and more specifically for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits. The results present an integrated application framework (IAF) with a particular focus to energy and materials' credits and based on the system's targets as well as credits' intent and interrelations. The proposed framework applies system thinking to the level of individual practices as well as the entire building process. This is followed by two case-study validations and amendments to reflect dominance, temporal precedence and iterative action of some scopes along different project phases. It indicates how the difference in building type and context may alter opportunities for scoring potentials in addition to means of supporting important decisions such as setting building reuse and CWM plans as well as specifying and procuring sustainable materials. The result provides a consistent mean to manage and document building activities and finally report buildings' performance. This shall prove very useful for researchers, practitioners and system developers. Finally, the study provides insights for developing the LEED system as well as different GBRSs using the IAF; this may take the form of a more interactive decision support tool, software management application or a better user friendly system interface.