Green Certification: Do You Need It?

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Christophe Daudigny RealCorpGreen building (also “green construction” or “sustainable building”) expands and complements classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. It aims for environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures and processes throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.* Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

In fact, getting it right (meaning making it both effective and compliant with local laws) is a challenge well beyond that already provided by traditional building practices. Christophe Daudigny, RealCorp’s Head of Project Management, who is both a Project Manager and a qualified green advisory consultant, knows this only too well. It requires close cooperation of the design team, the architects, the engineers, and the client at all project stages, and is impossible to achieve without qualified advice. Here he responds to some general questions about the process.

When might one need a green advisory service?

Today, you should take the opportunity to get sustainability advice for any new construction or refurbishment project. From a valuation perspective, the main benefit for property owners is the capacity to charge a premium on the rent. It’s true that sustainable buildings are often more expensive to erect, but new construction materials enable reduced service charges, which improves the long-term picture. And the benefits are felt by occupants as well, in terms of improved working conditions and the lower service charges. Subject to current local market conditions, the capital value of the building could also increase.

What elements should the advice address?

The consultant’s first meeting with the client should aim to establish the certification target. Does the project need just basic sustainability standards, such as those provided by HQE, BREEAM, etc., or should it go for the highest possible quality system, such as DGNB? Then, within the requirements and parameters of the particular certification system, an appropriate certification scheme (such as industrial, offices or education) must be selected. And within that scheme, should we aim for adequate, good or excellent? This choice affects various aspects of the implementation, such as site location, choice of materials, construction methods, degree of community consultation, and, not least, the cost, of course!

What should an advisor know and/or what experience or qualifications should s/he have?

This partly depends of the particular certification system being used. Naturally, the advisor should have an appropriate qualification from the particular label provider, but there may be other requirements. For instance, DGNB requires not only a “Doktor Ingenieur” diploma from the DGNB Technical School in Stuttgart (or a special advisory status for qualified consultants in countries outside Germany), but also demonstrable long experience in construction (unlike BREEAM, which does not).


What types of certificates can be issued?

There are usually a few award levels, which may be differently named, but essentially reflect variations on “good, better and best” status, and which may be awarded in the design stage (a temporary certificate) or after reception of the finished building. For instance, BREEAM uses Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding, LEED uses Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum, and DGNB uses Bronze, Silver and Gold.

What is the cost of such a service?

With a good advisory, there should really be 0% extra cost on the works, because the advisor should usually be able to guide you to do better with the same resources, but there will be fees that should be factored into the total cost of the building.

For example, a DGNB guideline suggests that for a building of approximately 1000sqm there will be around 50k€ of fees, which includes the Advisor, as well as specialists in air quality, layout quality, healthy buildings, etc.

DGNB is currently the only certification system with a cost criterion, i.e. which includes the economy of the project as one measure of sustainability. If you exceed the benchmark cost for your building, you will lose points in the certification, so advisory fees are taken into account for this calculation.

Note that RealCorp’s green advisory service specialises in the DGNB System. For information on other green certification systems, please visit the relevant websites. For an overview of how DGNB may benefit you, see the post DGNB: The Highest Green Standard in Luxembourg.

*Source: Wikipedia

Post updated 16 June 2015

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