How to prepare for TRUE certification

Published on: 
30 Sep 2019

Your comprehensive guide to getting ready for TRUE

We’re breaking down the TRUE Zero Waste certification process and sharing the most important steps to take in getting ready for TRUE certification:

Define and register your project

A natural first step is to consider what you are certifying. TRUE projects are typically defined by the legal property boundary; however, GBCI may allow alternative boundaries that are completely contained within the site in order to certify a single building or area. If you are using an alternative boundary, provide information about it on your registration form for GBCI to consider.

Once you know your project boundaries, register your project by completing the registration form and then email it to us. Projects do not need to meet all of the requirements or be ready to certify in order to register. We recommend registering as early as possible to obtain access to the tools you will need to apply for certification, along with helpful resources such as submittal process guidelines and access to GBCI staff for technical support. Once you’ve submitted the registration form, GBCI will reach out with information and guidance to complete the registration process. And once you’re registered, GBCI will provide access to additional resources to complete the submission and review process.

Learn TRUE requirements

Get familiar with the minimum program and credit requirements to achieve TRUE certification. Download the TRUE Application Form and review the TRUE Zero Waste Rating System, Guide to Certification and other materials available on the Resources webpage. For the most comprehensive training on the TRUE rating system, enroll in the TRUE Advisor professional credential program. TRUE Advisors are trained on TRUE certification and overall zero waste best practices. They understand the requirements of the rating system, help projects achieve TRUE certification and are committed to advancing zero waste values and policies. Having a TRUE Advisor on your project team can be extremely helpful during the certification process, though it is not required. 

Here are five easy steps to become a TRUE Advisor. 

The TRUE team regularly hosts webinars that cover a variety of topics related to certification and zero waste concepts. Check out our events page to register for any upcoming webinars. Recordings of past webinars can be found on Education @USGBC. And make sure to keep up to date by signing up to receive webinar and TRUE program updates. In order to subscribe, sign up for TRUE emails at the bottom of this page.

Set up the framework and assess where you stand 

Start by meeting with your team to discuss next steps and your desired outcomes. Here are a few questions to ask:

  •       Who should be compiling the submittal and who will have the information you need to submit?
  •       Do you want to select a particular certification level or point score to aim for?
  •       Is there a date you want to earn your certification by?
  •       What analyses need to be completed to understand your waste streams, current diversion performance and next steps?
  •       What opportunities do you have to further improve? Can you do it in time for certification?
  •       Are there any programs or diversion activities in place that you may not know about?
  •       Do you have any incomplete or inaccurate diversion data? What is the first available data we have on our diversion activities?

The certification review process takes approximately 8 weeks, so plan accordingly if you have a targeted certification date.

Next, analyze your current program with a focus on identifying gaps. Filling out a draft TRUE Application Form is a great tool to see where you stand. Determine if your project currently meets all seven requirements or if there are steps you need to take to be in compliance. You should also plan to review the credits to understand which you could earn now and which you could earn by implementing new policies and practices.


After getting a clear picture of where you stand, start writing policies and implementing practices that address currently unachievable credits and requirements. Conduct performance analyses and collect data and documentation to ensure you’re meeting minimum requirements and are on the right track to earn credits.

As you proceed, save documents for your submittal and start drafting credit narratives. Prior to submitting your application, you also have the opportunity to hold one or more calls with a GBCI staff member to clear up any outstanding questions you have on credits and requirements.

GBCI’s TRUE customer service team is available to you throughout the process and can be reached at [email protected].