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How the Leadership in Energy and


Environmental Design (LEEDTM) v4

certification program aligns with the
Global Reporting Initiative (GRITM) G4
Sustainability Reporting Guidelines

Publication Date: July, 2014

About ISOS Group

ISOS Group is a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Training
Partner and a CDP Silver Education and Training Partner in the U.S.
Website: www.isosgroup.com
About Susty Pacfic
Susty Pacific is a Hawaii-based firm specializing in responsible
business and sustainability consulting.
Website: www.sustypacific.com/



2014 ISOS Group 02

Table of Contents

1. Intro
2. An Overview: GRI and LEED
2.1 GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
2.2 LEED Rating and Certification Program
3. GRI and LEED Comparison
3.1 Organizational Sustainability and the Built Environment
3.2 Reporting Options and Certification Levels
3.3 Scope and Boundary
3.4 Levels of Organization
3.5 Frameworks Content, Strategy and Qualifications
3.6 Supplements to the GRI and LEED Frameworks
3. GRI and LEED Synergies
4.1 Areas of Synergy
4.2 Expending to GRI from LEED
4.3 Expending to LEED from GRI
4.4 GRI-LEED Summary Linkage Table
5. Resources & Glossary of Terms

For access to more detailed tables and additional tools that reference the GRI G3.1, G4, and other
LEED checklists, please visit: http://www.isosgroup.com/research/GRI-LEED


2014 ISOS Group 03


ISOS Group, LLC produced this document in association with Susty Pacific LLC and other professionals who offered their time and expertise to provide feedback during the development process.
Though this document is intended to be used
much like Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI)
linkage documents , it has not been endorsed by
the GRI *.


We would also like to thank Brightworks
(http://www.brightworks.net) for their involvement in helping develop the GRI-LEED linkage
table. Recommended changes and questions
should be made directly to ISOS Group at:

GRI linkage documents offer guidance on how to use the GRI

It provides assistance for GRI reporters to more

easily track and disclose performance related to
LEED. This document also serves as a planning
tool for green building, facility management, and
capital improvement projects that reference the
LEED system so that they can be aligned with GRI
organizational reporting and selected indicators.




Sustainability Reporting Framework in combination with other

reporting standards. find out more about GRI linkage documents:

It is with great hope that professionals following

both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design Rating System (LEED) and the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (GRI Guidelines)
will use this document as a reference point when
aligning efforts and packaging performance measures into one communication piece.

Cindy Sundborg, Brightworks

Joshua Hatch, LEED AP BD+C, Brightworks
Rita Haberman, LEED AP BD+C, Brightworks
Scott Lewis, LEED AP BD+C, Brightworks


This document and the LEED-GRI Linkage table
are initiatives of ISOS Group, LLC, developed in
collaboration with Susty Pacific LLC, and under the
direction of:
Jennifer Chirico, LEED GA, Susty Pacific
Kainoa Casco, LEED AP, Susty Pacific
Alexandru Georgescu , ISOS Group
Nancy Mancilla, ISOS Group
Shenan Boit, ISOS Group

Alan Edington
Alex Catallo
Allison Hjelle
Candice Derks, LEED AP
Craig Riley, LEED AP BD+C
Derrek Clarke, LEED AP
Esi Waters, LEED AP O+M
Jessica Rinaman, LEED GA
Lake Casco, LEED GA
Lauren Sparandara, LEED AP BD+C
Marc Heisterkamp, LEED AP
Marina Rota
Monika Kumar
Nikki Jackson
Sonay Aykan
Tamara Armstrong, LEED AP
Wanda Lowrey, LEED AP BD+C

2014 ISOS Group


Background Note

The impetus for developing a document that identifies synergies between LEED and GRI was the result of requests from numerous
LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) who attended the GRI-certified sustainability reporting courses offered by ISOS Group, a
GRI-certified training partner in the United States. Many of the participants had either assisted organizations in obtaining LEED credits for green building efforts or developed comprehensive sustainability reports based on the GRI Guidelines.
Since many organizations in the United States already have advanced green building practices in place, the next step is for organizations to develop public reports that identify how their LEED efforts align with their organizational sustainability progress via performance measures reporting. This document aims to help facilitate a greater understanding of how GRI relates to LEED, and it provides
a planning tool for organizations to more easily track and disclose their sustainability performance.
About The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a multistakeholder, nonprofit organization that develops and publishes guidelines for reporting on economic, environmental, social, and governance performance (i.e., sustainability performance). As the worlds most widely
used sustainability reporting framework, the GRI Guidelines are used by organizations of all sizes and types, and across different
sectors and regions. The GRI Guidelines were developed through a unique, multistakeholder, consultative process that involved
representatives from around the world, including report information users and reporting organizations. The Guidelines were first
published in 2000 and revised in 2002 and 2006. In 2013, the fourth generation Guidelines were released (referred to as the GRI G4
Guidelines). To learn more visit: https://www.globalreporting.org/
About The U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization that believes in creating buildings that complement the environment and enhance communities. USGBC developed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 2000. Since then, LEED
has emerged as a leading international green building rating and certification system. USGBC includes a diverse group of builders,
environmentalists, corporations, nonprofits, teachers, students, lawmakers, and citizens. It has over 77 chapters, 13,000 member
organizations and companies, and over 188,000 LEED professionals. To learn more visit: http://www.usgbc.org/about



2014 ISOS Group 05


The following sections compare GRI sustainability reporting with the LEED rating system. Sections 2 and 3
provide an overview and comparison of the GRI and LEED frameworks. Section 4 describes synergies and areas
where the two frameworks overlap. Section 5 provides a GRI-LEED linkage table that shows the overlap and
relationship between GRI indicators and LEED credits.

The purpose of this document is to provide a resource

LEED, however, focuses specifically on sustainability in

for GRI and LEED practitioners and project teams to

the built environment through the design, planning,

identify connections between GRI indicators and LEED

construction, and operation of buildings.

credits. These identified connections will provide a

reference for GRI-based sustainability reporters (and


reporting organizations) to more efficiently track and

disclose performance related to LEED.

Both the GRI and the LEED frameworks consistently

reference or require compliance with other standards,

This document can serve as a planning tool for green

often integrated within the frameworks themselves.

building, facility management, and capital improve-

For example, GRI references standards or frameworks

ment projects that reference the LEED system so as to

from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Organization

align it with organizational reporting, disclosure priori-

for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),

ties, and selected performance indicators for the proj-

the UN Global Compact, International Integrated Re-

ect owner.

porting Council (IIRC), International Organization for

Standardization (ISO), among others.

As of 2013, over 6,200 organizations from around the

globe have published a GRI-based report and more

LEED references various design, construction, opera-

than 100,000 building projects have participated in the

tions and procurement standards aimed at achieving

LEED certification system.

The GRI Guidelines and

certification, including but not limited to the American

the USGBCs LEED green building certification frame-

Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condition-

work provide organizational leaders and managers

ing Engineers (ASHRAE), EPA Tool for the Reduction

with comprehensive, process-driven frameworks that

and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmen-

integrate sustainability into their organizations.

tal Impacts (TRACI), Illuminating Engineering Society


of North America (IESNA), and Chartered Institution of

The GRI Guidelines offer a broad enterprise approach

Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

to organizational sustainability that focuses on organizational impacts, performance, management systems,

operations, stakeholder engagement, and transpar-

port. http://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/USGBC_AR_2012.pdf globalreporting.org//

See GRI Database. http://database.globalreporting.org; 2 See USGBC 2012 Annual Re-




2014 ISOS Group



An Overview: GRI and LEED


GRI reports identify approaches for organizations to
improve impacts and work toward achieving a highperforming Triple Bottom Line (TBL)an organizational accounting and performance monitoring system that
focuses on the internal and external economic, environmental, and social aspects of their organization.
The purpose of the GRI Guidelines is to provide a framework that enables all organizations to measure and report their economic, environmental, social, and governance performance. 3 They were developed through
a global, multi-stakeholder process that involved representatives from business, labor, civil society, and the
financial markets. The process included collaboration
with auditors and experts in various fields and close
dialogue with regulators and governmental agencies
from around the globe. The GRI Guidelines were also
developed to be in alignment with internationally recognized reporting and disclosure policies.

and performance to a diverse group of stakeholders.

In addition, the G4 broadens the organizations impact
in the supply chain by addressing its ability to manage
economic, environmental, and social risks throughout. Organizations use the Reporting Principles within
the GRI Guidelines to describe their management approach and track their performance, using Standard
Disclosures and Indicators.
Standard Disclosures communicate an organizations
impacts, strategy, management, and approach. They
can be either General Standard Disclosures (GSDs) or
Specific Standard Disclosures (SSDs). 4 Indicators provide economic, environmental, and social performance
information related to material Aspects, material topics that reflect an organizations triple bottom line impacts. 5 Each Aspect in the GRI Guidelines includes a
set of defined indicators. The Implementation Manual
is used by organizations to prepare sustainability reports, regardless of size, sector, industry, or location.
The GRI Guidelines also offer an internationally accepted reference for disclosure on governance and on the
environmental, social, and economic performance and

The most current GRI Guidelines are in the fourth ver-

impacts of organizations.

sion (G4), released May 2013. The G4 was designed

to address sustainability data requirements in a more

See https://www.globalreporting.org/Information/about-gri/Pages/default.aspx;

straightforward and user friendly manner than prior

section 3.4 and definitions in the glossary;

versions. The G4 provides a detailed framework for


reporters to convey the organizations impacts, goals,




See GRI Reporting Principles and Standard




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Source: Governance & Accountability Institute


Of the S&P 500 companies

published a Sustainability
Report in 2013



and project owners and teams choose the best fit for

LEED is a green building rating and certification sys-

Ten LEED rating systems were developed to meet the

tem developed and managed by USGBC. It is currently

needs of various sectors, building types, and develop-

in its fourth version (LEED v4), released in November

ments, 7 as follows :

2013. The purpose of LEED rating system is to address

sustainability in the built environment. It is used by
project owners, developers, and project teams to design, construct, and operate buildings, landscapes, and
infrastructure from a whole system approach, multidimensional, multi-disciplinary perspective.
LEED was developed through a multistakeholder, consensus-based process that included public comment
periods that allowed for input from industry stakeholders and the vast network of LEED APs. LEED certification is administered by the Green Building Certification
Institute (GBCI), which provides third-party verification
of green buildings.
LEED project participants must first satisfy LEED prerequisites and then earn points to achieve a specified
LEED certification level. The number of points assigned

their project. 6

New Construction and Major Renovations (NC)

Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance


Commercial Interiors (CI)

Core and Shell (CS)

Retail NC

Retail CI



Neighborhood Development (ND)


to each credit creates an incentive mechanism for developers, building owners, and project teams to focus
on certain aspects of sustainable design, while providing them with flexibility to choose between different
aspects based on their unique needs. Prerequisites and
credit requirements differ for each LEED rating system,


See LEED. http://www.usgbc.org/leed; 7 See LEED Rating Systems. http://www.usgbc.org/


2014 ISOS Group


Each LEED rating system has a unique checklist that

includes prerequisites and credit requirements, falling
primarily under five main credit categories, which include the following:

Sustainable Sites

Water Efficiency

Energy and Atmosphere

Materials and Resources

Indoor Environmental Quality.

The rating system also includes the following two additional credit categories:

Innovation and Design

Regional Priority Credits.

Several LEED rating systems (LEED for Homes, EB:

O&M, and ND) have six more additional credit categories. Additional credit categories are Location and
Linkages, Awareness and Education, Innovation in Operations, Smart Location and Linkages, Neighborhood
Pattern and Design, and Green Infrastructure and

Source: U.S. Green Building Council (figures as of April 2013)



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GRI and LEED Comparison

The primary difference between the GRI and LEED frameworks is that GRI is a guideline for writing a sustainability report, while LEED is a prescriptive certification system specific to the built environment.

A GRI report describes an organizations sustainability

Until recently, GRI has also been more focused on

performance based on economic, social, and environ-

transparency as a core principle. However, with the

mental components. GRI reports are public, transpar-

recent LEED v4 updates by the USGBC, LEED has been

ent documents that highlight the organizations man-

adjusted to encourage more transparency on building

agement, culture, decisions, stakeholders, and the

performance, which is in line with the philosophy of

people who work within the organization.


GRI reports provide a baseline for measuring an orga-

Another key comparison is whether the frameworks

nizations performance over time, and organizations

are voluntary or mandatory. GRI is largely voluntary,

are expected (though not required) to continue GRI

though efforts are currently underway for mandatory

reporting after the initial report is complete.

reporting. 8

LEED, in comparison, is a flexible but prescriptive

LEED is designed to be voluntary; however, along with

framework for attaining a green building certification

other green building rating systems, LEED is now re-

that signifies a project has undergone the required

quired by many local, state, and federal policies for

steps to fulfill a certain level of technical sustainability

government-owned buildings and mandated or incen-

and building performance.

tivized for private sector buildings in some jurisdictions.

GRI and LEED are not mutually exclusive. Many components of GRI overlap with LEED and vice versa.
For instance, while the GRI focuses directly on economic, social, and environmental impacts of an organization, LEED primarily focuses on environmental and
health-related impacts of buildings, though it is also
intended to positively influence social and economic

components of sustainability. The majority of the LEED

the Call for Mandatory Sustainability Reporting, BSR Insights, April 5, 2011, http://www.

environmental components are included within the


GRI framework.




For BSRs perspectives on mandatory reporting efforts, see Chhavi Ghuliani, Answering

2014 ISOS Group


The table below compares the GRI Guidelines with two LEED rating systems: LEED Building Design + Construction (LEED BD+C) and LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED EB: O&M).

TABLE 1: GRI and LEED Comparison





Building Design &


Building Operations



One-Time Project

On-Going Tracking &


On-Going Tracking &



Building Design &


5 - Years Operation

Annual, Biennial


Environmental Impacts &

Human Health

Environmental Impacts &

Human Health

Economic, Environmental,
Social, and Governance


Prerequisites & Optional


Prerequisites & Optional


General Standard
Disclosures & Specific
Standard Disclosures
(Materiality Assessment,
Management Process, and
Key Performance Indicators)


Third-Party Certification

Third-Party Certification


(Point Based)

(Point Based)

Depth & Breadth of


Owner & Developer

Design & Construction

Operations and
Maintenance Team
Building Occupants

Internal and External





Optional External


2014 ISOS Group 11

Global, Regional, and Local Impact of LEED

"there are nearly 60,000 LEED green building

projects across the globe, spanning 10.6 billion
square feet."
Source: LEED in Motion report series: Places and Policies, USGBC, http://www.usgbc.org/



ible content and quality. 9 GRI sustainability reporting

requires the identification, tracking, management, and
coverage of various sustainability impacts with related

GRI and LEED are differentiated by their sustainability

disclosures and indicators. GRI reporting does not re-

impact boundaries. GRI focuses on organizational sus-

quire third-party certification, checklist,10 document

tainability from managerial, operational, and strategic

submittal, or related fees. 11

perspectives. It was developed to address sustainability through the understanding and management of the

Reports can be labeled as GRI sustainability reports as

TBL impacts related to all aspects of an organizations

long as they follow the GRI Guidelines and contain cer-

operations, including labor practices, supply chain,

tain features, including a determination of reporting

marketing, financial practices, human rights, and prod-

level, a statement from the most senior official in an

uct responsibility.

organization, a GRI Content Index, and other general

and specific disclosure requirements. 12

LEED addresses how the built environment buildings, campuses, communities, hardscapes, and land-

Organizations produce reports according to defined

scapesimpacts humans and the natural environ-

GRI reporting principles thus ensuring report qual-

ment. It was created to be a system that defines and

ity and content. Reports are not audited by the GRI,

measures the performance of buildings and, with the

and third-party verification and review is not required;

exception of LEED ND, primarily the vertical built envi-

however, organizations do have the opportunity to

ronment. LEED and other green building practices are

have their reports externally assured, which includes a

often included within organizational policies, guidance,

review of the report and the verification of data.

and sustainability management systems. They are also

included within GRI-based reporting systems since a

considerable portion of an organizations impacts are

sibility (or CSR) reports or triple bottom line reports (TBL);

in its built environment.

Index and Checklist:https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/reporting-support/

Sustainability reports are also commonly referred to as corporate social respon10

See GRI Content

reporting-resources/content-index-and-checklist/Pages/default.aspx; 11 Costs and


fees associated with consutants and third-party external assurance of a GRI report;

Reports include a GRI Content Index that allows readers to determine where GRI

GRI provides reporting guidelines and resources for or-

content, management disclosure, and indicators are located in the report and in other

ganizations to produce sustainability reports with cred-

referenced data resources.


2014 ISOS Group


If an organization seeks external assurance, then a final statement from the assurance provider is included
in the sustainability report.
LEED certification begins with choosing the most appropriate LEED rating system for the project.



a rating system is selected, the project must be registered with the GBCI. Project registration enables
the project team to manage the certification process
through the LEED Online platform.


GRI Reports using the new GRI G4 Guidelines are
classified In Accordance with GRI at either the
Core option or Comprehensive option. 14
The Core option includes the essential components of a sustainability report and communicates
the context in which the reporting organization

Throughout the design, construction, and post-construction project phases, LEED requires project teams
to create and compile supporting documentation to
verify compliance with certification requirements.
Project teams proceed through the LEED submittal
process and apply for final certification once design
and construction is completed (in the case of new construction projects) or a period of performance is completed (existing building projects) and once all documentation is completed.

has identified material impacts, mitigation efforts,

and performance for at least one performance indicator- for each selected material Aspect.
In contrast, the Comprehensive option builds on
the basic core requirements while expanding the
scope of the report through additional disclosures
on strategy and analysis, governance, and ethics
and integrity. The comprehensive option also requires more extensive communication on sustainability performance by including the reporting of

A key difference between GRI and LEED is that LEED

requires third-party certification to support project
credibility and provide assurance that LEED practices
are integrated into the design and construction or operations of each project. LEED certification is achieved
once prescribed sustainability practices have been
demonstrated to be integrated into the buildings design or performance. The cost of LEED certification includes a flat fee that is required when the project is
registered and a certification review fee based on the
projects rating system and size. Additional fees that
may apply to some projects include appeals, additional
reviews, Credit Interpretation Rulings, and LEED Interpretations.

all indicators related to an identified Material Aspect.

LEED projects can be certified at one of four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
Projects achieve certification by meeting all required prerequisites and the minimum amount
of credits, which depends on the level of certification sought. Once a project achieves the credit
level threshold for a certification level, the project is submitted to the GBCI via their LEED Online
platform. Once the GBCI reviews and verifies the
prerequisites and credits, the project is awarded
a certification level. The project owner can then


See Primary Steps of LEED Certification. http://www.usgbc.org/leed/certification;

order a LEED plaque that indicates the project is


Previous GRI G3 Guidelines consisted of application levels A, B, and C. Application


levels were discontinued with the creation of GRI G4, and now reports are classified as In


2014 ISOS Group 13


LEED requires improved sustainability performance

that is specifically designed for the built environment

The intention of both the GRI and LEED is to accelerate

and primarily focuses on environmental impacts. As a

the transformation of global systems toward greater

result, it may or may not directly inform or influence

environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

the overall sustainability vision of an organization.15

While both frameworks are designed to have long-term

The activities of LEED projects are based on a pre-

impacts on sustainability, as a reporting mechanism,

scribed scope of work, one mainly addressed during

GRI promotes sustainability transformation through

the design and construction phases of projects. During

organizational accountability and transparency as it re-

these phases, building and management systems are

lates to TBL impacts and performance.

designed and established so that they affect the lifecycle impacts of a project with the view of achieving

GRI requires each reporting organization to create a vi-

continuous green building performance.

sion of sustainability specific to its operations and to

LEED design, construction, and certification phases are

continually improve its performance on material im-

complete, direct management and ownership atten-

pacts over time.

tion specific to LEED requirements may dramatically


Once the

GRI reporting encompasses the entirety of organizational operations and influence, has longer term man-

Several new LEED requirements focus on more con-

agement requirements, and occurs over recurrent

tinuous management and performance. For instance,

reporting periods. GRI-based reporting organizations

LEED 2009 projects require a certain degree of perfor-

determine the reporting period for which they plan to

mance tracking over time, as a project team must com-

publish, although it is typically annually or every two

mit to collecting and sharing whole-building energy

years and aligned to a fiscal or calendar year. It requires

and water usage data for at least 5 years after project

the integration of sustainability into organizational and

completion, even if the building changes ownership.

financial management systems, active management

over time, and continuous data collection and perfor-

In addition, LEED v4 addresses GRI reporting under its

mance reviews.

Materials and Resources category, thereby encouraging the use of materials that are produced by compa-

Similar to the attention required for the ongoing man-

nies that disclose the impacts of their products and

agement of financial and operational concerns, man-

operations through GRI or other CSR/sustainability re-

agement attention is required for GRI-based reporting

porting. Finally, the LEED EBOM rating system requires

throughout the reporting cycle and after sustainability

ongoing management through the development of

management and reporting systems are put into place.

policies and management systems and the tracking of

Constant monitoring and assessment is a core feature

data over a designated performance period.

of sustainability reporting. Furthermore, the materiality assessment conducted by organizations on the


front end of the reporting process serves to catalyze

IEQ [or Indoor Environmental Quality] category) and accounts for project life-cycle im-

the periodic expansion of initiatives aimed at mitigat-

pacts, such as the LEED EBOM rating system; 16 See LEED Volume Program: Overview and

ing impacts.

Process. http://www.usgbc.org/resources/leed-volume-program-overview-and-process


LEED also addresses certain social and economic impacts through various credits (e.g.,

2014 ISOS Group



All Aspects are then assigned various DMAs and indicators that can be included in GRI reports. Reporters

GRI and LEED both include levels of organization that

are not required to report on all Aspects; rather, they

are used to address sustainability relative to each

select and report only on Aspects and indicators that

frameworks design. As explained in section 2.1, GRIs

are most relevant to their business or industry and are

G4 report content is comprised of General Standard

of interest to their stakeholders. GRI report content is

Disclosures (GSDs) or Specific Standard Disclosures

primarily organized at the Aspect level (see appendix

(SSDs). 17

A, GRI Categories and Aspects).

GSDs include higher level organizational information in

LEED rating systems are organized and based on LEED

areas such as report and organizational profile, strat-

categories (see section 2.2). The components of LEED

egy, material Aspects and boundaries, stakeholder

categories are designed to mitigate the impacts of

engagement, governance, ethics and integrity, and

building projects on the environment and human

commitments to external initiatives. In contrast, SSDs

health through prescriptive requirements for design,

disclose an organizations performance on various As-

construction, and operations.

pects of sustainability and include Disclosure on Management Approaches (DMA) and Indicators.

Categories include requirements for areas, such as site

selection, alternative transportation methods, pollu-

DMAs are used for GRI material Aspects. They describe

tion, local purchasing, biodiversity, energy and water

an organizations approach to managing and measur-

efficiency, use of materials and resources, community

ing impacts. Indicators are organized by categories,

connectivity, health and occupant comfort. Each cat-

subcategories, and Aspects (or material topics).

egory is further broken down into prerequisites and

credits (see appendix B, LEED v4 for BD&C: New Con-

There are three G4 categories: Economic, Environmen-

struction and Major Renovation Checklist).

tal, and Social. The Social category is further divided

into four subcategories: Labor, Human Rights, Society,
and Product Responsibility. Categories and subcategories include Aspects, or material topics, specific to that


See section 3.4 and definitions in the glossary


Defining Content: GRI report content is based on disclosures (GSDs and SSDs), while LEED project components are defined based on required prerequisites and credits. GRI disclosures describe organizational
sustainability performance, while LEED credits are prescriptive technical requirements that must be
fulfilled to ensure a project is designed in a sustainable manner. For example, GRI includes disclosures
on annual water consumption and waste generation, while LEED credits require annual waste audits
and efficiency of water operations. Fulfilling certain LEED credit requirements can potentially assist GRI
performance and guide report content.


2014 ISOS Group 15


In contrast, LEED defines Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) that represent core characteristics that
a project must possess to qualify for certification.

Both GRI and LEED frameworks include elements that

guide content, strategy, and qualifications. For in-

MPRs require projects to comply with environmental

stance, GRI defines disclosure requirements to be in

laws, be complete and permanent buildings, use a

accordance with the GRI Guidelines in addition to

reasonable site boundary, abide by floor area require-

defining principles that encourage transparency and

ments and occupancy rates, share energy and water

the quality of report content.

data, and have an acceptable building-to-site area ratio.

To qualify as a GRI report, a report must meet the requirements of the core option and include necessary

In addition to the MPRs, each project must satisfy

GSDs and SSDs, as defined by the GRI Guidelines and

the prerequisites as specified by LEED rating systems

associated reporting processes.

checklist to achieve certification

As shown below, GRI reporting principles are divided

into two groups: Principles for Defining Report Content
and Principles for Defining Report Quality.

TABLE 2: GRI Reporting Principles

Principles for Defining GRI Report Content

Stakeholder inclusiveness
Sustainability context

Principles for Defining GRI Report Quality




transportation, public agency, telecommunications,

Both frameworks began by providing general guidance

Similarly, LEED started with a single rating system but

for organizations and buildings; however, they have

has expanded to include ten rating systems (see sec-

evolved to include more industry or project-specific

tion 2.2) that apply to various operations and project

frameworks to meet the needs of the market.


and apparel and footwear).

GRI has expanded to include ten sector supplements

(e.g., airport operators, financial services, event organizers, construction, and real estate), with more supplements in the pilot stage (automotive, logistics and



2014 ISOS Group



GRI and LEED Synergies

Green building design and management has a crucial role in the overall sustainability performance of an organization. The integration of GRI and LEED results in a more comprehensive approach for addressing organizational
sustainability in conjunction with an organizations built environment.

Organizations that have achieved LEED certification on

help maintain and achieve greater performance in sus-

building projects already have an established founda-


tion for defining, tracking, and managing quantified

environmental sustainability performance that can be

LEED creates prescribed actions for improved sustain-

disclosed in a GRI report.

ability performance through the built environment,

whereas the GRI Guidelines help track and manage the

While LEED certification does not require the same

performance of these actions over time. Integrating

level of integration within the organizational system, it

the frameworks provides a more efficient approach to

can support sustainability management and improved

managing organizational resources.

performance over time if sustainability is included in

the buildings overall green building policy for capital

To fully leverage the value of these frameworks, us-

improvements and building operations.

ers of GRI and LEED can overlay their efforts with an

explicit sustainability vision, using the respective tools

The use of GRI reporting principles in conjunction

to increase performance and move toward goals that

with LEED-certified projects allows for ongoing

explicitly reference sustainability.

monitoring and assessment of building projects that

Trend: Green Building Performance Disclosures

"Green Building Performance Disclosure will continue as a major trend, highlighted by disclosure requirements
enacted in 2013 by more than 30 major cities around the country, laws that require commercial building owners
to disclose actual green building performance. Yudelson says he expects this trend to spread rapidly as the easiest
way to monitor reductions in carbon emissions from commercial and governmental buildings."
Source:Yudelson Associates, Building Design + Construction: Places and Policies, http://www.bdcnetwork.com/10-green-building-trends-2014



2014 ISOS Group 17


Below are some areas identified for possible synergies and the integration points between the GRI and LEED.
Many of the identified areas were compiled based on GRI reports listed in section 4.2. The list provides examples,
but is not intended to be all encompassing

TABLE 3: Synergies of GRI and LEED Coordination


Engagement and Environmental








- Awards and recognition

- Published sustain-

- Carbon emissions

- Investing in and

- Employee education

ability commitment

through facilities and

financing sustainability

and development

and goals

transportation initia-

through job creation

- Business case development


- Employee health and

- Shared lessons and

- Development of sustainability monitoring
systems and databases



- Sustainability infra-

- Green building/sus-

structure development

tainability education

- Environmental remediation

- Stakeholder engage- Link to disclosure

of management ap-

- Purchasing policies


- Energy

and awareness

- Integrated project

- Product/service

- LEED affordable hous-


design and impact

ing and community


- Marketing, public


relations, and branding

- Purchasing and pro- Operations and


- Occupant health

- Storm water manage- Policies and gover-


- Supply chain
- Quantified metrics
and indicators with

- Waste and materials

- Water
- Verified sustainability


- Biodiversity

2014 ISOS Group



GRI reporting also requires a focus on organizational

culture, management systems, and communication

An organization that has completed a LEED project and

strategy, which is beyond the boundary prescribed for

wishes to pursue organization wide sustainability ini-

a LEED project.

tiatives may choose to use GRI as a framework to set

its strategy, engage and manage its stakeholders, and


improve its sustainability performance.

Organizations that have already produced a GRI reWhile completing a GRI report is different than com-

port and wish to pursue a LEED project must proceed

pleting a LEED project and these require two separate

through the LEED application and submittal processes.

efforts, some of the work required by a LEED project

overlaps with GRI and, if used effectively, can create

While LEED projects require some project-specific de-

greater efficiencies for the organization. For example,

liverables and planning processes that are outside of

GRI project teams can utilize the LEED environmental

the GRI Guidelines, the LEED team can apply the man-

indicators that have already been implemented for the

agement system that has already been established

organizations LEED building(s) in their GRI report. GRI

through the GRI process to inform the design, con-

teams will still need to identify additional indicators re-

struction, and ongoing operational strategies for the

lating to social, governance, and economic impacts of

LEED project.

the organization as a whole.

In addition, some overlap may be found between LEED
This will require organizational sustainability visioning,

and GRI team members, which could increase efficien-

planning and preparation, stakeholder engagement,

cies; however, since LEED is focused on the built envi-

material Aspect identification, impact metrics and indi-

ronment, additional team members are needed (e.g.,

cator definition, performance monitoring, and report

architecture, engineering, interior design, construc-


tion, and commissioning).

Selected GRI Reports Referencing LEED 18: The following organizations use LEED certification as a key component in addressing their environmental sustainability impacts through their operations and facilities. They also use this information to help generate content for their GRI reports.
Bank of America

Johnson Controls

BNY Mellon International

Kohls Corporation




Starbucks Coffee Company

CA Technologies

Toyota Motor Corporation North America


Thomas Properties Group (Parkway Properties)

HCP, Inc.

Verizon Communications.

Intel Corporation



List provided by Marc Heisterkamp of USGBC.

2014 ISOS Group 19

GRI-LEED summary linkage table

The table below illustrates GRIs G4 framework compared across one of the LEED checklists LEED NC 2012 (v4).
It provides practitioners and GRI or LEED project team members with a tool that can help determine alignment and
direct connections between GRI disclosures/indicators and LEED credits/prerequisites.

For access to more detailed tables and additional tools that reference the GRI G3.1, G4, and other LEED checklists, please visit:


2014 ISOS Group


Full versions of LEED checklists and GRI guidelines can be found on the web pages shown below:
- LEED Checklists http://www.usgbc.org/leed#certification
-GRI Guidelines https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/g4/Pages/default.aspx.



2014 ISOS Group 21


Resources & Glossary

This section includes definitions, references, and links to resources on key terms and
concepts and organizations referenced throughout this document.



ASHRAE: Web Link: www.ashrae.org

Stakeholder: Entities or individuals who may be

affected by an organization's activities, products, or

CDP: Web Link: www.cdp.net/

services; and whose actions may affect the ability

of the organization to successfully implement its

Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers

strategies and achieve its objectives. This includes

(CIBSE): Web Link: www.cibse.org

entities or individuals whose rights under law

or international conventions provide them with

Illuminating Engineering Society of North America

legitimate claims via the organization. Stakeholders

(IESNA): Web Link: http://www.ies.org/

can include those who are invested in the organization (such as employees, shareholders, suppli-

Integrated Reporting (IIRC): Web Link: http://www.

ers), as well as those who have other relationships


to the organization (such as vulnerable groups

within local communities, civil society).

International Organization for Standardization

(ISO): ISO 26000: Web Link: http://www.iso.org/iso/

Sustainability Report: A report created by com-


panies and organizations that reveals economic,

International Organization for Standardization

environmental, social and governance performance

(ISO): ISO 14000: Web Link: http://www.iso.org/iso/

information. It can also be referred to as Corporate


Social Responsibility Report (CSR), Environmental

Social Governance (ESG) .

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Web Link: http://www.oecd.org

Triple Bottom Line (TBL): A concept that expands

the traditional use of bottom line of being

UN Global Compact: Web Link: http://www.unglobal-

primarily financially focused to that of also includ-


ing societal and environmental impacts. TBL is also

referred to as People, Planet, Profit.



2014 ISOS Group



GRI-EICC Comparison
Web Link: http://www.gbci.org/org-nav/about-gbci/aboutgbci.aspx

Appeals: Following a LEED review, project teams can

appeal decisions made by the GBCI that approve or

LEED: See Leadership in Energy and Environmental

deny certain elements of projects related to LEED

Design (LEED).

prerequisites, credits, and/or points.

Web Link: http://www.gbci.org/main-nav/building-cer-

LEED 2009: The version of LEED that preceded LEED




LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED AP): Individuals

Cost of LEED: Fees paid to USGBC/GBCI to achieve

that have earned accreditation through USGBC that

LEED certification. Fees are split into registration and

affirms advanced knowledge in green building and

certification fees. Registration includes a flat fee paid

expertise in a particular LEED rating system.

at the time of registration (rates are based on the

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/leedap

date of registration). The certification fee is based

on a project's rating system and size; it is calculated

LEED Credits: Consists of one or more LEED points

and paid when the project team submits documen-

for different areas within the LEED checklist. LEED

tation for review via the LEED Online platform. The

projects achieve certification by meeting a minimum

fees for either the standard or split review cover

amount of LEED points, which depends on the level of

both the preliminary and final reviews.

certification sought.

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/leed/certification/fees/

LEED EBOM: A LEED rating system that encour-


ages owners and operators of existing buildCredit Interpretation Rulings (CIRs): Allows project

ings to implement sustainable practices and

teams to obtain technical guidance on how LEED

reduce the environmental impacts of their build-

requirements, including Minimum Program Require-

ings, while addressing the major aspects of

ments (MPR), prerequisites, and credits, pertain to

ongoing building operations.

their projects. Sometimes referred to as Credit Inter-

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/ebom

pretation Requests or CIR Requests.

Web Link: http://www.gbci.org/Certification/Resources/cirs.

LEED Interpretations: Precedent-setting rulings that


may impact the way the LEED rating systems are

implemented across multiple projects.

Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI):

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Archive/General/

Established in 2008 to administer certifications


and professional designations within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Councils LEED

LEED Online: The primary resource for proj-

Green Building Rating Systems. It is a third-party

ect teams to manage the LEED documentation,

organization that provides independent oversight

submittal, and certification process.

of professional credentialing and project certi-

Web Link: http://www.gbci.org/main-nav/building-certifica-

fication programs related to green building.




2014 ISOS Group 23

LEED Prerequisites: The minimum or baseline re-

US Green Building Council (USGBC): Cre-

quirements that each project must meet in order to

ated the LEED green building program, which

earn LEED certification.

includes a nationwide network of chapters

and affiliates. USGBC is an advocate for green

LEED Rating System: LEED has various rating sys-

building education and policy.

tems that are geared towards the unique needs

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/

of a project or building type.

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/leed/rating-systems


LEED Submittal Process: LEED project teams submit

Accuracy: A GRI reporting principle that states that

supporting documentation to the GBCI for review to

a GRI report should include information that is suf-

earn LEED certification. The process varies depending

ficiently accurate and detailed for stakeholders to

on the rating system but typically includes a pre-

assess the organization's performance.

liminary review and final review.

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/leed/certification/submit/


design-construction (LEED Design & Construction Example)


LEED v4: LEED Version 4.

Aspect: A term used in the GRI Guidelines that refers

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/v4

to a list of material topics covered by these guidelines.

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Level of Certification (LEED): LEED has four cer-


tification levels that can be achieved based on


a point system: (1) Certified (4049 points), (2)

Silver (5059 points), (3) Gold (6079 points),

Balance: A GRI reporting principle that states that

and (4) Platinum (80+ points).

a GRI report should reflect positive and negative

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/articles/about-leed

aspects of the organization's performance to create a

reasonable assessment of overall performance.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

(LEED): A green building tool and certification


system created by the US Green Building Council


that addresses the entire building lifecycle. Building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to

Clarity: A GRI reporting principle stating that, when

achieve different levels of certification.

producing a GRI report, the reporting organization

Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/leed

should make information available in a manner that is

understandable and accessible to stakeholders using

Minimum Program Requirements (MPR): The mini-

the report.

mum requirements that a LEED project must have in

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

order to be eligible for LEED Certification.


Web Link: http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Archive/General/





2014 ISOS Group


Completeness: A GRI reporting principle stating that

report and communicates the context in which the

a GRI report should include coverage of material

reporting organization identified material impacts,

Aspects and their boundaries, sufficient to reflect sig-

mitigation efforts, and performance for at least one

nificant economic, environmental, and social impacts,

performance indicator for each selected material as-

and to enable stakeholders to assess the organiza-


tion's performance for the reporting period.

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Disclosure: A synopsis of an organizations impact on


the environment, society and the economy, whether


positive, or negative.

Comparability: A GRI reporting principle stating that,

Disclosures on Management Approach (DMA):

when developing a GRI report, the reporting organiza-

Designed to provide sustainability report users with

tion should select, compile, and report information

information on the implementation of organizational

consistently. The reported information should be

strategy and provide context for reported indicators

presented in a manner that enables stakeholders to

and performance trends.

analyze changes in the organization's performance

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/g4/

over time, and that could support analysis relative to


other organizations.


Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/


Externally Assured or External Assurance: GRI reports


can be externally assured by pursuing third-party external assurance of report content and quality. This

Comprehensive Option: A GRI In Accordance op-

helps protect the interest of stakeholders and provides

tion that builds on the basic core In Accordance

a level of comfort to key decision makers so they know

requirements while expanding the scope of the

the information they are using for business decisions

report through additional disclosures on strategy and

is reliable and in full compliance with the relevant re-

analysis, governance, and ethics, and integrity. It also

porting frameworks.

requires more extensive communication on sustain-

Web Link: http://isosgroup.com/external-assurance/

ability performance by requiring the reporting of all

indicators related to an identified material aspect.

General Standard Disclosures (GSD): A description of

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

the organization and reporting process. Disclosures are


applicable to all organizations preparing sustainabil-


ity reports. Depending on the organization's choice of

In Accordance option, the organization has to iden-

Content Index: A tool in GRI based reports that enables

tify the required GSDs to be reported.

readers to gain a quick overview of the report and en-

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

sures easy navigation across all GRI indicators.


Core Option: A GRI In Accordance option that contains the essential components of a sustainability



2014 ISOS Group 25

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): A global nonprofit

mance indicators, or KPIs.

organization that develops and publishes guidelines

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

for reporting on economic, environmental, social, and


governance performance (i.e., sustainability perfor-


Impact(s): A term used in the GRI Guidelines, that un-

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/

less otherwise stated, refers to significant economic,

GRI Aspects: Activities and policies of the reporting

environmental, and social impacts that are positive,

organization that reflect the organizations significant

negative, actual, potential, direct, indirect short term,

economic, environmental and social impacts or play an

long term, intended, or unintended. https://www.glo-

important role in stakeholder decision making.


GRI Categories: Reports consist of three main disclosure groupings namely Economic, Environmental

GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines: Provides

and Social.

reporting principles, standard disclosures, and an

implementation manual for the preparation of sus-

GRI G3 and GRI 3.1: Sustainability reporting frame-

tainability reports by organizations, regardless of their

works preceding the G4 Guidelines. For more informa-

size, sector, or location.

tion or to download these guidelines:

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/g4/

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/



Impact(s): A term used in the GRI Guidelines, that unGRI G4: The newest version of the Global Reporting

less otherwise stated, refers to significant economic,

Initiative Reporting Framework, released in May 2013.

environmental, and social impacts that are positive,

It was designed to help reporters prepare sustainabil-

negative, actual, potential, direct, indirect short term,

ity reports with a focus on materiality, or in other

long term, intended, or unintended.

words, the organizations most critical sustainability-

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

related issues. For more information on the G4:


Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/g4/



Implementation Manual: Part 2 of the GRI G4

To download the Implementation Manual and/or the

Guidelines. Provides examples on how to apply GRI

Reporting Principles and Standard Disclosures Guide:

reporting principles, how to prepare the reporting

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/g4/

information to be disclosed, and how to interpret the


various concepts in the GRI Guidelines. References to

other sources, a glossary and general reporting notes

GRI Indicators: Included in GRI reports to provide

are also included. Organizations should consult the

information on the economic, environmental, and

implementation manual when preparing a sustainabil-

social performance or impacts of an organization. Also

ity report.

referred to as performance indicators, key perfor-

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/



2014 ISOS Group


In Accordance: A term stating that a sustainability

Principles for Defining Report Content: Defines the

report is In Accordance with GRI, and it meets the

process that should be used to identify the content

requirements of the Core or Comprehensive options

that a GRI report should cover by considering the

in the GRI G4 Guidelines.

organization's activities, impacts, and the substantive

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

expectations and interests of its stakeholders. Prin-


ciples include stakeholder inclusiveness, sustainability


context, materiality, and completeness.

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Indicator: Provides information on the eco-


nomic, environmental, and social performance


or impacts of an organization related to its material Aspects. Each aspect in the GRI Guide-

Principles for Defining Report Quality: Guides choices

lines includes a set of defined indicators.

to ensure the quality of information in sustainability

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

reports. Principles include balance, comparability, ac-


curacy, timeliness, clarity, and reliability.


Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/


Linkage Documents: GRIs guidance on how to use the


GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework in combination with other reporting standards.

Reliability: A GRI reporting principle that states that,

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/

when producing a GRI report, the reporting organi-


zation should gather, record, compile, analyze, and


disclose information and processes used in the preparation of a report in a way that they can be subject

Material Aspect(s): Aspects defined by the GRI that

to examination and that establishes the quality and

reflect an organizations significant economic, environ-

materiality of the information.

mental and social impacts; or substantively influ-

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

ence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.


Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/



Reporting Principles: Defined by GRI to achieve trans-


parency in sustainability reporting and are designed

Materiality: A GRI reporting principle that states that

to be applied by all organizations when preparing a

a GRI report should cover aspects that 1) reflect the

sustainability report. The Principles are divided into

organization's significant economic, environmental,

two groups: 1) Principles for Defining Report Content,

and social Impacts or 2) substantively influence the

and 2) Principles for Defining Report Quality.

assessments and decisions of stakeholders.

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/







2014 ISOS Group 27

Reporting Principles and Standard Disclosures:

Sustainability Context: A GRI reporting principle that

Part 1 of the GRI G4 Guidelines. Contains reporting

states that a GRI report should present an organiza-

principles, standard disclosures, and the criteria to be

tion's performance in the wider context of sustainabil-

applied by an organization to prepare its sustainability


report In Accordance with the Guidelines. Defini-

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

tions of key terms are also included.


Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/



Timeliness: A GRI reporting principle that states that,


when producing a GRI report, the reporting organizaSector Supplement: GRI sector-specific reporting

tion should report on a regular schedule so that infor-

guidance that includes versions of the GRI Guidelines

mation is available in time for stakeholders to make

tailored for various sectors.

informed decisions.

Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/REPORTING/


Specific Standard Disclosure (SSD): Information on

the organization's management and performance
related to material Aspects.
Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Stakeholder Inclusiveness: A GRI reporting principle

stating that, when producing a GRI report, the reporting organization should identify an organizations
stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to
their reasonable expectations and interests.
Web Link: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/

Standard Disclosure: Disclosures included in GRI reports that communicate an organizations sustainability impacts, strategy, management, and approach.
There are two different types of GRI Standard Disclosures: General Standard Disclosures and Specific Standard Disclosures.



2014 ISOS Group


Publication Date: July, 2014

About Susty Pacfic

Susty Pacific is a Hawaii-based firm specializing in responsible business and sustainability consulting.
Susty Pacific's expertise and knowledge combine business competency with sustainability to develop tangible solutions
that address the reality of business needs. We strive to create opportunities for our clients to improve business and sustainability performance.
Website: www.sustypacific.com/

About ISOS Group

ISOS Group is a leading sustainability services agency with big project experience that blends a passion for sustainability
reporting with clients who make a difference. We specialize in GRI, GRESB and CDP sustainability reporting, external assurance of CSR reports and verification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate data.
ISOS Group is a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Training Partner and a CDP Silver Education and Training Partner
in the U.S.
Website: www.isosgroup.com