Certification: Certainty or confusion?

Ever since the early 1990s, a large number of green building certification systems have been developed – there are now more than 50 worldwide. As our understanding of sustainability has broadened, the criteria measured by the certificates has expanded and a greater emphasis has been placed on economic and social aspects so that KPIs can vary considerably from certificate to certificate.

The standardization of the standard

Existing certificates each cover only a fraction of the global real estate portfolio resulting in a highly fragmented certificate, KPI and reporting landscape of real estate companies. Low comparability hinders an effective benchmarking and the broad focus beyond ecological sustainability reduces the applicability of certificates when it comes to the assessment of climate risk.

Developed in the UK, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the leading European standard, used in almost 80 countries – 65% of certified buildings within the European Union carry a BREEAM certificate. In China, there are more than five labels, which are awarded by building type. Three systems dominate in the USA: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), used in around 170 countries worldwide. GPR (Global Property Research) and EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies), used in almost 30 countries.

Three ways to empower certificates in the right way

  • An active strategy for emission reduction requires dynamic documentation and precise monitoring wherever possible. Certification has to be carried out regularly, with more transparency and more often.
  • Most standards hardly differ in their details and regulatory requirements mean that many owner groups have to prepare reports according to different standards depending on where their real estate assets are based. Standards have to be consolidated.
  • Next to sustainability certificates, ESG strategies and new standards take the center stage. The real estate industry needs to think holistically and integrate all aspects over the entire value chain and lifecycle.

Sustain the change

The enormous ecological footprint of the building sector obliges the industry to act, and not only as a moral imperative. Government regulation, and the threat of carbon taxation also increase the pressure. In addition to direct regulatory intervention, demand on the real estate market is also forcing the industry to rethink, as the climate compatibility of a building plays an ever-greater role – whether as a result of self-imposed obligations or simply by anticipating possible future risks.

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