Green standards in construction

Green standards in construction

Investors notice the economic benefits of using sustainable solutions.  Customers’ expectations are growing as well. They are more aware of the importance, impact, and popularity of environmental protection. Tenants are increasingly often looking not only for interesting spaces, but also sustainable buildings for their company’s headquarters. Does certification have the ability to attract? What multi-criteria certifications can one find in Poland?

The issue of sustainable construction is reaching an increasingly wide group, including architects, designers, as well as recipients – real estate users. It is becoming important. Government institutions and organizations are also showing their interest, looking for the best solutions for green building through a network of cooperation and partnership.

The construction sector, one of the main emitters of CO2, has been implementing tools for over ten years to accelerate changes in the industry towards green and sustainable construction. Modern sustainable buildings are economical, comfortable, and have the lowest possible negative impact on the natural environment. Defining standards provided a wider perspective on the design and use of buildings. Multi-criteria certifications serve as assessment tools. Not every green building is and must be certified. Why is it worth doing then?

Certification is an independent confirmation of meeting the requirements of sustainable construction. According to the statistics of the Polish Green Building Council (PLGBC), there are five multi-criteria certification systems in Poland, and approx. 600 facilities have already been certified throughout the country. All the systems present in Poland have a single goal – to influence the design, construction, and use of buildings to achieve balance between environmental, economic, and social factors. In practice, two certification systems are used on a large scale: the English BREEAM and the American LEED; the French HQE and German DGNB are less common. The WELL Building Standard certification system has also appeared on the market, focusing on those building attributes that have the greatest impact on the health of their users. The assessment of buildings is carried out by dedicated certifying institutions.

The certification systems define the standard best practices in the area of sustainable building design, construction, and use. Each system includes several categories which describe in detail the standards that should be met by a certified building. These include, among others: internal environment quality, energy efficiency, availability of public transportation, location, materials, and resources, operation and implementation management, water and waste management, and project innovation. From the user’s point of view, the most valuable categories are those that focus on user comfort (access to daylight and window view, ability to control lighting, heating and cooling, better ventilation) and transportation (access to public transportation, bicycle parking areas, or electric car chargers).

The BREEAM certificate

The BREEAM certificate is the most popular building certification system in Poland. It is a multi-criteria system for assessing the quality and impact of buildings on the environment. It is currently one of the standards in the real estate industry in Europe and in the world used by investors, developers, and tenants in 79 countries. Over 566 thousand certificates have been issued for over 2.2 million registered buildings.

The LEED certificate

The LEED certificate is the second most commonly used environmental certification system of buildings in Poland – it is internationally recognized and present in 165 countries. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and managers with tools to identify and implement practical and measurable solutions in the field of environmentally friendly building design, construction, use, and maintenance. At the moment there are over 94 thousand LEED-certified projects.

The DGNB certificate

The German DGNB certificate has recently appeared among other certification systems. It was developed by the German Green Building Council together with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS) for use as a planning and assessment tool for buildings. DGNB-certified buildings can be found in 20 countries.

The HQE certificate

The HQE – High Quality of Environment – certificate is another certification system found on the green construction market. It is a label (not a standard) confirming that the project owner’s initiative to achieve specific targets for a sustainable building or area was successful. HQE applies to residential, commercial, public utility, and service buildings at all life cycle stages, as well as to other types of urban areas (districts, clusters, campuses).

The WELL Building Standard certificate

The WELL Building Standard is the latest building certification system present on the Polish market, created by IWBI (International WELL Building Institute). It is the first system that focuses solely on the health and well-being of building users. The system was based on the assumption that a building (where we spend over 90% of our time) has a significant impact on people – the physical environment in the building supports the health, productivity, and well-being of its users. This certificate is a confirmation for building owners and employees that the design of their space promotes health and well-being.

It carries an important message to individual groups: investors, users, and the market. It points to a package of benefits that can be achieved through this type of investment. These primarily include lower maintenance costs and setting new standards in a more responsible and environmentally friendly use of buildings.

– Awareness of the idea of sustainable development is gaining importance. As a result, the essence of construction and operation of facilities in line with green building is growing. Green building in Poland is gaining momentum. Investors are aware of the economic benefits of such projects. On the other hand, a growing number of users point out that working in sustainable buildings and using them has a positive impact on health, comfort, and well-being.  After all, it is all about conscious and wise use of resources, experience, and solutions – summarizes Alicja Kuczera, Managing Director of the Polish Green Building Council (PLGBC).


Author:

Polish Green Building Council (PLGBC)

Last Updated on March 15, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska

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