What is the RELi Action List + Credit Catalog and where did it come from?

RELi is a resilient rating system + certification for buildings, neighborhoods, homes and infrastructure, similar to LEED in it’s structure and format. It also embodies a finance underwriting standard and an integrative process standard.

RELi was developed by the RELi Collaborative lead by MTS, Perkins+Will and the C3Living Design Project with contributions by participants from Impact Infrastructure, Deloitte Consulting, Eaton Corporation, The University of Minnesota, AIA Minnesota COTE and many others. Doug Pierce, AIA, LEED Fellow with Perkins+Will is the Principal Investigator for RELi.

The RELi standard was developed through an ANSI approved National Consensus process administered by MTS. It was first released for public comments in August of 2014 and approved by the RELi Development Committee of MTS (The Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability) on December 1, 2014.

The standard was developed using an ANSI recognized national consensus process administered by MTS (The Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability). Due to it’s consensus process status, it can referenced by government.

What is the RELi Action List?

The RELi Action List is the streamlined version of the REli Credit Catalog. It could have been called the RELi Checklist, but Action List better conveys the process required for effective resilience.  Think of RELi as a big “box of ideas” or a “list of planning, design, engineering + operating actions” not a compliance checklist.

More specifically, RELI is a list of things you can “take action on” to make your project and the world more resilient.  So don’t just check the credits off.  Grab them like they’re the important ideas that they are and allow them to shape your solutions into something revolutionary.  Something resilient.

What is the RELi Credit Catalog?

Resilience is very specific to location and context.  One size does not fit all.  Projects need lots of options from which to choose at different scales, so they can assemble the appropriate solution.  RELi’s credit catalog contains a comprehensive list of over 190 ‘actions’ to select from that can help make almost any project more resilient.   

Why does the RELi Resilience Rating System contain Sustainability credits?

In reality, resilience and sustainability are two sides of the same coin.  Sustainability tends to be more focused on mitigating risk, and resilience tends to be more focused on adapting to risk.  In many ways they are inseparable. For example, energy efficiency, which is commonly considered to be part of sustainability is just one of the many issues that cross-over between Resilience and Sustainability:

Resilience and Sustainability Cross-Over Example – Energy Efficiency:

  • Energy efficiency is important to acute or short-term resilience because a more energy efficient structure can operate longer in an emergency on the available energy supply.
  • Energy efficiency can reduce carbon emissions, which is the key to reducing climate change impacts. This is essential to long-term resilience , because if carbon emissions causing climate change are not rapidly and substantially reduced, the impacts will exceed our capacity to adapt or to be resilient. They will be unmanageable.

REli is about moving forward from where we are.  There is no going backwards or sideways with RELi.   RELi requires that all of the basic LEED prerequisites like energy and water efficiency are met for certification.

Why does RELi Reference all of those other Rating Systems?

RELi helped pioneer many of the credits and metrics people think of as “Resilient,” particularly in areas such as “Acute” risks and hazards, building thermal safety, operational resilience, sea level rise, social cohesion and community vitality.

By its nature, truly functional and effective resilience covers a lot of topics.  So instead of reinventing the wheel, RELi aggregates resilience knowledge from popular, existing standards + guides wherever possible.  This dramatically reduces the amount of new metrics, terms and methods that industry professionals need to learn.


Why weren’t just a few Credits added to LEED to address Resilience?

RELi was developed as an independent rating system completely separate from LEED. The development process was managed by standards developer MTS.

LEED was transformational in moving the building industry towards sustainability.  It’s groundbreaking and always will be, comprising over 50% of all new US commercial construction and retrofits and certifying about $1 trillion / yr. of construction (Green Bond Business Case released at the NYSE with the Sierra Club / JPMorgan).

RELi expands into newly emerging issues not prevalent when LEED was scoped and developed.  Topics like financing, social cohesion, and social and economic equity are front and center now.  They are essential to resilience and they are also important issues to younger professionals now entering the industry.  These professionals are passionate about  addressing them in the work they do on a daily basis, and RELi helps make that a reality.

This type of passion was also true for new professionals when LEED was launched 17 years ago by the US Green Building Council.

Why does RELi Look so much like LEED?

RELi is structured and formatted much like the LEED rating system, because LEED is well understood by many thousands of professionals.  This allows them to quickly understand RELi and put it to use.

Time is of the essence.  Things are changing fast.  We need to move quickly to make our homes, buildings, infrastructure, neighborhoods and communities more resilient in the face of ever greater levels of extreme weather, sea level rise and social stresses created by a lack of social cohesion + social equity. Having an Action List and Certification with a format that is becoming globally familiar is vital.

If it’s a Rating System, where are the Points?

Points are on the way. We’re using the RELi pilots projects as way to help us establish points and rating levels.

Wouldn’t it be better if RELi had fewer Credits?

RELi is comprehensive because resilience, by its very nature, is comprised of many interrelated factors extending beyond the boundaries of any single entity.  The fabric of our communities, neighborhoods and structures is very interconnected.

The insurance industry identifies this kind of interconnectivity as Correlative Risk and recognizes that it is a serious and challenging issue, and for that reason it is also called Cascading Consequences where one failure can cause many others.

Cascading consequences can be described more constructively as positive outcomes of interconnectivity, or Co-benefits.

Why does RELi have so many Innovation Credit slots?

Since resilience is very specific to location and context but with many variables, projects need lots of options which to choose so they can assemble the ideal solution.  We know that all of the needed actions aren’t be captured in RELi’s Credit Catalog. And probably never will be.

Accordingly, the Innovation slots allow projects to customize their solutions to their projects’ unique needs.

You can pull in other action-items from guidelines and rating systems RELi references.

Or, you may decide you need to develop an innovative solution that hasn’t been  included  in any guideline or rating system yet.  If you document it properly, your solution can be used as an Innovation Credit. Just make sure your innovation credits are robust; and that they truly add more resilience to your project without lots of damaging side-effects or externalities; and that they are most likely useful to other projects.


Why are RELi’s scope and performance metrics so comprehensive + expansive?

Resilience is a unique public private partnership that must address Correlative Risk to be effective, i.e., there are key regional operations that must be maintained or else an entire region shuts down and can’t function.  Individual buildings and properties must respond to the risk as well. Correlative risk reduction is key to bringing back climate / resilience insurance coverage by making it cost effective.

For example, during its RELi Action List scoping, the Corpus Christi hospital wanted to continue to operate during a Category 4 hurricane, but determined it could not because the regional wastewater treatment plant would be shut down.

RELi’s comprehensive + expansive approach allows correlative risk to be addressed and thus buildings, homes, infrastructure, neighborhoods, and communities can be more resilient.

So we’re hearing about Correlative Risk and Cascading Consequences in connection with RELi and Resilience. Can you explain further?

The interconnected nature of resilience, impacts the way we think about resilient design and the projects, properties, organizations or communities seeking resilient design outcomes.

Events or failures that happen on adjoining properties, other neighborhoods, or even miles away, can directly impact your building; your neighborhood.

If a major electric sub-station miles from your building is flooded by an extreme rain event, you could experience a power outage.  If your local economy is weakened by globalization, this could impact your economic stability; your access to services; your organization’s health and well being.

RELi includes the kind of actions or Co-benefits you need to take in order to manage and prepare for correlative risk and cascading consequences.

Correlative Risk / Cascading Consequences are important to the insurance industry for loss mitigation and determining if a climate related resilience risk is insurable.

What do issues like Social Cohesion, Social Equity and Economics have to do with Resilience? Isn’t Resilience about Hazardous and Extreme Weather Events, Earthquakes, Wildfires and issues pertaining to acute risk?

Resilience is much more than simply being able to stand up to severe physical shock, like a hurricane or flood.  What happens after accelerating more intense extreme events?  Resilience is about having the capacity to withstand a shock and bounce back after the shock is over.

If a community is not socially cohesive, it cannot regroup after an event in order to fully recover, including securing financing.  Without social and economic equity, community scale social cohesion is not likely and people will not know how to work together in times of great crisis which are happening more frequently with growing intensity.

If a community is not economically resilient, it won’t have the resources to follow through with a full and robust recovery.

What do Issues like Social Cohesion, Social Equity and Economics have to do with the Built Environment? Aren’t those really policy issues?

Winston Churchill said “We shape our buildings; there after they shape us.”  The built environment both reflects our social relationships and it can also shape our social relationships and interactions.

For example, it is well recognized that walkable communities create the physical conditions for higher levels of social cohesion among neighbors, whereas non-walkable communities reduce cohesion.  Multi-lingual signage provides guidance for a diverse population. Without it, those that do not speak the language addressed by the signage can be alienated.

Social cohesion is also important because polls show the public is concerned and stressed about climate change.  This is understandable due to the growing number of extreme events with loss of life and great property damage, including more intense hurricanes, storms, floods, and fires.  Despite the controversy, disinformation and resulting confusion over climate, the public is taking note of the warming climate, and is more frequently drawing the connection with more extreme events.

Social equity amongst members of a community increases social cohesion by reducing stress generated by a perceived and real disparity in respect between citizens created by economic classes.

Social equity is comprehensively manifested throughout the built environment by many factors including access to transit, greenspace, daylight, clean air and water, safe and secure physical surroundings, and much more.  The built environment is managed, maintained, and owned by organizations.  The more socially equitable those organizations are, the more likely they will provide and maintain a socially equitable built environment.  Therefore, RELi includes credits that address governance and organizational structure of resilient organizations to facilitate a deeper and necessary level of cohesion across our neighborhoods and communities.

I get It, Resilience is big topic and RELi is a big response – But how do I work with that?

lience is a big topic with lots of interconnected issues. As a result, RELi’s Credit Catalog is big so that it has a lot of the elements you need to make your project as resilient as possible. Because it has lots of elements, you don’t have to go looking in other places to get the ideas you need.

RELi has several credits centered around “integrative process” to help you deal with the comprehensive nature of resilience. They are in the first RELi category called Panoramic Approach. Here’s how the approach works:

Step 1: Pick the elements you need from RELi Action List + Credit Catalog and let the other elements go.  Don’t forget to include all the requisites – i.e., the things every project should address and RELi won’t let you let go of.

Step 2: Then do some rapid prototyping: cluster the requisites and credits into interrelated systems so that you can work with several of them at a time, as a unit. Then put multiple units together to make even bigger units. Give your system a test, sooner, rather than later to see how its working.  Adjust your credits if you need to, then repeat the systems based clustering process and do another test. Repeat this cycle as many times as you need until your solution is ready to go forward.

The RELi Integrative Process consensus standard prerequisite is also critical to substantially reducing expensive change orders + construction costs. This is necessary because resilience planning must address complex interrelated issues that require iterative cycles of integration coupled with cost modeling and performance modeling across multiple disciplines and entities. Resilience will be the most expensive activity ever undertaken by society because it must plan for ever increasing levels of extreme events and change, such as sea level rise that will have significant impacts on infrastructure. The public and owners have a limited threshold of acceptable project cost increases. Project costs can be best managed using an integrative process.

Why does RELi also include Underwriting / Finance Standards?

RELi must respond to the market need to be effective, and the greatest market need is to finance resilient improvements now due to the rapid acceleration of systemic, more intense and damaging extreme events.

RELi addresses this need by categorizing resilience attributes as having tangible or intangible economic value which is the basis of higher credit ratings, and can help with discounted insurance, cheaper cost of capital, more bond proceeds, and more valuable and less risky financial instruments.

The cost of resilience will high, and these financial incentives are imperative.

Why is RELi comprised of National Consensus Standards?

RELi includes consensus technical and economic performance metrics for the many categories of resilience including buildings, homes, infrastructure, communities and finance. The overall RELi standard was developed by Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS). The consensus process was managed and executed by MTS. Consensus standards offer the following benefits:

  • They can be used by government due to their inclusive process.
  • They improve quality from extensive peer-review required by the consensus process.
  • They protect Constitutional due process rights of all interested and affected parties with many trillions of dollars of market share at stake, by providing them a seat at the table that promotes buy in, standard adoption, and resilience commercialization.
  • They reduce risk, uncertainty and antitrust and negligence liability.
  • They reduce substantial resilience market confusion by providing an inclusive consensus based standard.
  • They facilitate much needed resilience financing and financing incentives.




C3 Living Design Project