The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) recently released a certification option called The Core Green Building Certification (Core), which could be an alternative to LEED for designers and developers who want to back-check sustainability efforts with third-party certification.

Living Building Challenge is a high aspiration certification that can be prohibitively challenging to conventional design teams. Core offers a certification option within the Living Building Challenge that is more easily achievable while still holding to the principles of the ILFI. Like LEED v4.1, Core’s requirements are performance-based, and Core certification can be applied to new or existing buildings and interiors projects.


The Core framework outlines 10 best practice achievements that a building must obtain to be considered sustainable. Core prioritizes the connection to nature, equity, and the need for a building to be loved equally with water, energy, and materials performance.

The Core certification joins LBC’s Zero Carbon Certification, Zero Energy Certification, Living Building Challenge Petal Certification, and Living Certification, to round out the building certification programs administered by ILFI.

Core has ten Imperatives addressing place, transit, water, energy, health, materials, equity, inclusion, biophilia, and inspiration that must be met to achieve the certification. Requirements vary based on project context and conditions, and the intent of each Imperative remains the same regardless of project type. All ten Imperatives are embedded within the Living Building Challenge and clarifications, definitions, and any exceptions are listed in the Petal Handbooks.

You can find the Core basics here:

What is our opinion?

ILFI with Core, and USGBC with LEED v4.1 have both demonstrated that they have come to similar conclusions:

  • Performance matters more than prescription
  • Developers want alternatives to the NC and EB O+M Path
  • Certifications need to be achievable to gain market traction

The biggest immediate advantage that we see with Core is that it may create a more achievable pathway for developers to take advantage of the LBC pilot programs popping up around the country, including in Seattle.

What should you do?

Selecting the right green building certification for a project has lasting implications and understanding how the certification is achieved and what will be required of the building’s design and performance are critically important. The certification strategy should support the project owner’s business values, and should be considered early in the design process.

Paladino can work with project teams to evaluate the potential risks and advantages of a Core certification, and/or can provide a gap study comparison for your next building project that compares the implications of LEED v4/4.1 vs. LBC Core.

Living Building Challenge Core Resources

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