Insights 30th March 2022 Building Consultancy

How to choose the right green building certification.

The first step to choosing the right green building certification should be to assess the stage of the property’s life cycle and look at appropriate schemes. Think about the end goal – is it to enhance occupiers’ wellbeing, to gain energy efficiency ratings and achieve savings, or a mix of these?

Our team of ESG experts can help select the right green building certifications and benchmarks for your property. 

Selecting and attaining the best green building certification for your property portfolio will help drive asset value, but the appetite for badging sustainability achievements means the property world has become a crowded marketplace of benchmarks and certifications for ESG reporting.

It’s important to choose the right path for each property or portfolio, and our team of ESG experts regularly guides our clients through the benefits and pitfalls of the most-commonly used ESG certifications, how multiple certifications can intersect, and how each can be achieved.

Here’s their lowdown on 14 of the best ESG certifications and benchmarks for ESG strategy

Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB)

The GRESB rating is designed to provide actionable ESG data and benchmarks for financial markets across all aspects of ESG for real estate. GRESB collects, validates, scores and benchmarks ESG data to provide business intelligence, engagement tools, and regulatory reporting solutions. The benchmark is aligned with international financial reporting frameworks, including the DJSI (Dow Jones Sustainability Indices) and TCFD (Task Force on Climate Related Disclosures), as well as goals set out by the Paris Climate Agreement, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

ISO 14001

The ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies the requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework that an organisation can follow, making it wider than most accreditations, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Scheme

MEES, is legislation that sets targets for Energy Performance Certificate ratings (EPC’s). In April 2018 MEES restricted the new letting or renewal of assets where an existing EPC is below an E rating. In April 2023 the minimum E rating will extend to existing lettings as any with a F or G become “unlawful” and fines apply. By 2025, all properties must have a current EPC but this is not set in statute yet. In 2027 a minimum C rating, and in 2030 a minimum B rating will become statutory requirements, as outlined in the Energy White Paper in December 2020. Properties over 1,000m2 need a compliant ‘action plan’ detailing the energy efficiency of the property for sales or lettings. The owner (or new owner in the case of a sale) must then either improve the building within a specified period or report annually on its actual energy use, until such time as the improvements are complete. Clients have been reviewing their portfolios to prepare for future restrictions by identifying which units are at risk, supported by our ESG team who can advise on the interventions needed to lift ‘at risk’ units above future EPC thresholds.

NABERS UK

Launched in November 2020 and already well-established in its native Australia, Nabers is run in the UK by the Better Buildings Partnership. There are currently two products available in the UK for office buildings: Design for Performance to drive energy efficient new buildings, and NABERS Energy ratings to measure energy-efficiency of existing offices. All ratings are carried out by assessors. There are plans to expand NABERS beyond the office sector eventually.

Fitwel

Fitwel has been embraced by developers and workplace strategists as part of the growing trend towards healthier workplaces. As the UK’s leading implementer of Fitwel, Workman has achieved certification for almost 2 million sq. ft of retail, office and business assets in locations such as Bristol, Leeds and London – the most completed Fitwel certifications in the UK and Europe.

WELL Certificate

This assesses buildings according to their impact on the health and wellbeing of building users. WELL is grounded in a body of evidence-based research that explores the connection between buildings and the health and wellness impacts on the people inside these buildings.

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)

Created by Building Research Establishment (BRE) a research-based group which aims to raise standards in the built environment. BREEAM is an independently assessed star rating on sustainability of the built environment, through all stages of a project’s development. Areas assessed include; energy, health and wellbeing, innovation, land use, materials, management, pollution, transport, waste, and water. The process is led by a trained assessor, who seeks evidence of best practice.

BREEAM In Use

BREEAM In Use is an independently assessed star rating for existing buildings, allowing stakeholders to measure, certify and improve existing assets. Areas covered are as BREEAM (as above) and it is also led by an assessor.

Home Quality Mark

BRE’s certification for the residential sector, the Home Quality Mark provides information from experts on a new home’s quality and sustainability credentials. It indicates the standards for running costs, health and wellbeing and environmental footprint for living in a new home, to allow benchmarking.

CEEQUAL

Also delivered by BRE, CEEQUAL is a sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme for civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping and public realm projects.

Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

Developed in the US, the LEED certification scheme rates based on evidence provided to the US Green Building Council (no assessor required). Criteria is similar to BREEAM, but with percentage thresholds and optional standards.

AirRated / AirScore

A global standard for indoor air quality (IAQ) using sensor technology which is graded to give an Air Score for each property. Measures temperature, humidity, CO2, particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s).

CyclingScore

CyclingScore rates buildings according to a set of standards to promote active commuting. Assessments look at how a building will support cycling, scooting, running, and walking to the workplace, with facilities such as secure well-lit bike-racking, and showers, scoring highly on the scheme.

WiredScore

The WiredScore assesses and certifies digital connectivity and smart technology in homes and offices on a global scale. This can help landlords assess, improve, benchmark and promote their buildings based on how tech-ready they are.