The TRUE Story

Have you heard about GBCI’s latest rating system? Unlike all the fake news out there, this is TRUE.

TRUE stands for Total Resource Use and Efficiency, and this rating system is on a mission to bring the Zero-Waste movement to the forefront of the green building industry. It aims to not only reduce the amount of waste being generated, but to also divert everything away from landfills, incinerators, and the environment. This rating system is intended for just about any facility; be it a school, office building, business, or other kind.  

TRUE is a big step forward when it comes to promoting a closed loop life cycle, where people repurpose and recycle materials at the end of their life cycle to use for something else. The linear life cycle that the world has used for so long is inefficient, costly, and harmful to our environment. With TRUE, facilities can demonstrate that they are reusing and recycling materials, reducing pollution, and being sustainable.

How does TRUE benefit businesses and buildings?

  •  Cutting out waste cuts costs
    Being efficient and smart about the waste you are producing will save you money. Sustainable purchasing, proper recycling, composting, and other methods can help decrease costs of facility operations.
  • Eliminates waste pollution
    Zero-waste facilities help eliminate pollution that normally gets into our air, our water, and our soil. This occurs when waste ends up in a landfill or is burned in an incinerator, and not only compromises our own wellbeing but also that of organisms and ecosystems around us. Reducing and diverting waste effectively like TRUE facilities do can eliminate this.
  • Promote social responsibility
    TRUE facilities are supporters of the triple bottom line: people, profit, and planet. These facilities are committed to supporting the health of people, the environment, and the economy on both local and global scales.

There are already more than 130 projects internationally that are TRUE certified, covering more than 250 million square feet. This includes the likes of Tesla, Cintas, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and many other companies that have seen the benefit of going zero-waste.


TRUE certification is like one of GBCI’s other rating systems, called Arc, in that it places a focus on performance and real data. Facilities that have achieved 90% (or higher) diversion of their waste from landfills/incinerators can pursue certification, but performance needs to be maintained, documented, and reported to GBCI annually to keep the certification. GBCI also requires that facilities submit case-studies of zero-waste initiatives, to provide quality research on effective zero-waste strategies.


Denise Braun Ryan