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What is a Green Building?

IFC’s definition of green buildings.

From almost 15 years of investing in green buildings, IFC has learned that green buildings should be:

“1 - Certified as green under one of the internationally recognized certification standards or an approved national standard.
2 - At least 20 percent more energy efficient than a baseline building without energy-efficient design.
3 - Able to quantitatively report impact metrics, such as energy and water savings, and greenhouse-gas emissions reductions".

The focus on operational energy efficiency and the resulting reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions aligns with what large commercial banks consider to be the most material characteristics for their green real estate portfolios.

Energy use can be measured and verified; however, focusing on this alone disregards the other benefits of green buildings, namely water-use efficiency and reduced embodied carbon in building materials.

Unlike most certification systems, IFC’s EDGE incorporates these parameters, and ways to quantify them, into its definition of a green building, which requires a minimum of 20 percent greater water and energy efficiency, and 20 percent less embodied energy in building materials compared to a local business-as-usual benchmark.

IFC is leading discussions with other multilateral development banks to agree on a common definition of green buildings.

Author: Green Buildings | A Finance and Policy Blueprint (

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