The University of Washington adopted its updated Green Building Standard in July of 2024. This new standard provides a holistic approach to ensure that building and construction across the UW aligns with the University's sustainability goals as well as the vision for responsible global citizenship

The UW Green Building Standard ensures that all construction and renovation projects maximize energy and water efficiency, reduce carbon emissions - both operational and embodied, and align with principles of equity, ecological harmony and health & well-being.

The new standard also introduces four project tiers, ensuring that targets are appropriately scaled for a diversity of project types.

Founders Hall large timber staircaseNew UW Green Building Standard overview

  • Water: 25-40% below code, depending on project
  • Energy: EUI below state requirement
  • LEED: Gold certification (or equivalent)
  • Embodied carbon: less than 500kg of CO2e/m2 in primary materials and product specific targets
  • Ecology: includes UW Bird-Friendly guidelines (created by UW PhD student)
  • Health & Wellness: Implement one Fiwel credit, include showers and changing facilities for bike commuters in large projects
  • Equity: Lactation facilities, gender-neutral restrooms
  • No new fossil fuels: No new or expanded fossil fuels systems in buildings except for backup power or research purposes. Buildings are encouraged to connect to the UW's central steam plant, which has a plan for decarbonization under the Energy Transformation strategy. 
  • Required Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA): Projects will use LCCA to evaluate technologies to achieve performance goals and optimize energy and water use.

The standard includes a minimum requirement of LEED Gold certification for new buildings. The UW Sustainability Map shows which current campus buildings are LEED certified.

Hans Rosling Population Health Building

Project tiersProject tiers diagram

The tier for a project is set early in project formation to allow for the requirements to be considered with scoping and budgeting the project.

Tier one: new construction or renovation

This tier includes new ground-up construction, major renovations of whole buildings and stand-alone renovations. This tier has the most comprehensive set of requirements.

Tier two: partial renovations and interiors projects

These are projects that include multiple system upgrades or renovations that include multiple systems (for example, HVAC upgrades, plumbing, lighting and finishes) and may include exterior improvements or space reconfigurations. The projects may involve work dispersed through a building or concentrated in one area. The requirements are narrowed to match the scope of work for these project types.

Tier three: system upgrades

These are projects that focus on energy or water consuming systems that don't include additional project scope like updates to finishes or reconfiguring space. The requirements for this tier focus on addressing operational efficiency.

Tier four: non-energy projects

Projects or minor works involving materials but limited or no systems. Examples include a landcaping project or minor finishing upgrades.


More information