The TRUE Story


By Denise Braun

Once upon a time there was a planet known as Tellus. The people of Tellus were seeking one important thing in life: The Truth. They grew weary of being misled by their leaders and yearned for more transparency and responsible behavior.  

One day they received encouraging news. The leaders of a relatively small but fast-growing industry took it upon themselves to become more transparent and began telling the truth about the impact their businesses are having on the lives of the citizens of Tellus, and on the planet itself. They had high hopes that their actions would inspire other industry leaders to act as responsible stewards of the planet and all its inhabitants.

Back to reality here on Earth – Wouldn’t it be great if the same could happen here? If our leaders, political and business alike, would be more open about major decisions that affect us all? Well, the story of Tellus is actually happening here. The Green Building industry is championing a movement toward greater transparency of its business practices, and more specifically, the GBCI (Green Business Certification, Inc.) is the industry leader at the heart of it all.

Tellus is actually the Latin word for “Earth,” and in an effort to “Tellus” the truth, the GBCI created a rating system fittingly called TRUE, which stands for Total Resource Use and Efficiency. The TRUE rating system pushed the building industry to take a hard, introspective look at their production processes, as well as at the life-cycle of the products being used during construction. It is designed to move us away from a linear life-cycle of products that is costly, inefficient and harmful to the environment, toward a closed loop life-cycle in which products are repurposed or are made from recyclable materials. It aims to not only reduce the amount of waste being generated, but also to divert all “waste” away from landfills and incinerators. In fact, TRUE is on a mission to bring the Zero Waste movement to the forefront of the Green Building industry.

Already, more than 130 projects across the globe are TRUE certified, covering more than 250 million square feet of buildings. These include the likes of Tesla, Cintas, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and many other companies that have seen the benefit of going Zero-Waste.

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.


The TRUE certification focuses on performance and real data. Essentially it compels leaders and industries to maintain and document the Truth – the quality or state of being true.  An honest assessment of the impacts of major industries is precisely what the inhabitants of Tellus, or Earth, deserve.