Built environments: places where we live, where we rest, where we play, and where we operate. It can be schools, malls, restaurants, factories, or offices. While buildings fulfill most of our societal needs and are considered a sign of economic prosperity, we must also begin to evaluate how these infrastructures impact the environment and the health of the people using them. One of the ways to do this is through green building certifications.
What is a green building certification?
Green building certification is described as a tool, system, or standard that is used to examine and verify a real estate project’s commitment to achieving sustainability and ensuring optimal human health and experience. Green building certification programs focus on several areas including site design and development, energy efficiency, materials uses, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality.
Some of the most popular green building certifications are:
This is a certification program developed by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA) in 2016 to promote occupant safety, improve physical activity, enhance social equality, impact community health, reduce absenteeism and provide healthier food options.
This is a building standard that measures, certifies, and monitors features of a building that impact health. This certification brings trust and confidence knowing that occupant health is addressed and prioritized.
The WELL Building Standard had its first version which was organized into seven categories: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind. In 2020, WELL expanded the categories (WELL v2) which is more comprehensive and focuses on concepts including Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community.
Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method or BREEAM is the first green building rating system. Launched in 1990 by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), BREEAM examines the long-term sustainability of a building, applies a rating and provides recommendations on how these ratings can be optimized. The BREEAM certification program ensures that building projects are adopting sustainable construction practices, operation, maintenance, and design.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED was introduced in 1993 by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). It provides guidelines that can be used from new construction through sustainable operations and maintenance. This certification body empowers investors, company owners, and facility managers to increase a building’s efficiency, reduce operating expenses, enhance the building’s value, and ensure the comfort, health, and safety of occupants.
It is a green building certification program that was launched by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). Green Mark aims to promote environmental awareness and achieve sustainability in the real estate building sector by incorporating effective practices and green building technologies in the design, construction, and building operations.
RESET is a globally acknowledged set of standards that focus on data quality and data transparency with the purpose of helping built environments become healthy and sustainable. It was designed with a clear understanding of the importance of air quality and why it needs to be monitored throughout a building’s entire operations.
Benefits of green building certifications
Obtaining a green building certification may seem expensive and time consuming, but green building certifications are something that more and more occupants and investors are looking for. It is also easier than many business leaders and building managers think. By having a few and small adjustments to your building, you can be eligible for certification.
If you are looking for some ways a green building certification can benefit you, we have listed them below:
An edge over the competition
The coronavirus pandemic made everyone even more concerned about health and the safety of the places people are into. Increasingly, occupants and employees are pushing for cleaner, greener, and healthier workplaces. Offering them assurances by complying with green building standards and attaining certifications allow you to be the top choice over other buildings.
Higher rental fees
Due to their commitment to occupant health and sustainability, green buildings become even more desirable than traditional real estate properties. The high demand in green buildings means that property owners can charge higher rental rates which can be used to balance project costs. A study from JLL strengthens this claim as they revealed that in the Asia Pacific region, 7 out of 10 companies are willing to pay higher rents for green-certified built environments.
High occupancy rates
Because projects that comply with green building certifications provide better working environments, tenants are more likely to renew their leases and stay longer, resulting in lower tenant turnover rates and fewer vacant spaces.
Lower operating costs
While some modifications to make your building green-certified require funds, it can actually save money in the long run. Along with implementing energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, many green building certification programs require projects to use natural resources such as light and air. By switching to greener heating systems, being more mindful about energy sources and appliances, and by creating natural ventilation and lighting options, you can save on utility bills and operational expenses.
Lower greenhouse gas emissions
According to Architecture 2030, the real estate industry is responsible for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), add other activities such as transportation of goods and materials associated with buildings, and that number increases. But green buildings contribute less to GHGs. In fact, green buildings produce 50% greenhouse gas from water consumption and 48% less GHGs from waste.
Lowering the greenhouse gas produced by your building can have a profound impact on controlling climate change and protecting the communities around your building. Also, showing commitment to improving the environment can positively affect your company’s reputation.
Obtain support from the government
Many governments and lawmakers are pushing for greener communities and decarbonized environments, and because they understand the costs associated with these, they offer benefits such as temporary property tax exemptions, tax rebates, permitting fee reductions, zoning allowances, funding opportunities, and public-private partnerships to help build new buildings or retrofit the old ones. These benefits help offset the expenses associated with greening a building. Also, it is worth researching which financial incentive suits your project as they vary by country or state.
Reduce indoor air pollution and its threats on health
Green building certifications provide guidelines on improving indoor air quality in buildings. For example, LEED certification requires projects to establish minimum IAQ standards and control the impact of tobacco smoke on the premises. With BREEAM, guidelines include proper indoor air quality (IAQ) plan, ventilation, and post-construction indoor air quality measurement.
Complying with the guidelines and requirements presented by these certification bodies allows you to continuously improve the quality of the air indoors and prevent health risks associated with poor indoor air quality such as allergies, heart failure, asthma, bronchitis, and lung cancer.
The future is indeed uncertain, but by becoming green-certified, your building will become more empowered to defy any environmental, health, and economic emergencies in the future. Since there are a variety of green building certifications that you can choose from, it is necessary to spare some time to compare each certification and identify which of them perfectly suits your building’s objectives and limitations.
Learn more about the strategies you can do to secure green building certifications, talk to us today!