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Indoor Air Quality: Every Breath We Take

At EVORA, health and wellbeing consulting is a key component of our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Strategy and Risk Management service line.

We are increasingly advising our clients on indoor air quality and the emerging third-party standard in this area: RESET Air certification.

First – Why should we care about indoor air quality?

The short answer is because indoor air quality has a direct impact on health and wellbeing.

For example, PM-2.5 is one pollutant of concern in indoor environments. PM-2.5 is particulate matter or solid particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter – far smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles are so small that our bodies have no natural defences against them. As a result, PM-2.5 can penetrate deep within our lungs – even enter our bloodstream! – and can cause emphysema or lung cancer.

Even seemingly benign compounds from a human health perspective, like carbon dioxide (CO2), can negatively impact our mental performance. CO2 is a gas produced when we respirate and is in every breath we exhale. Yet, recent research shows that when CO2 accumulates in a space, such as when there is inadequate ventilation in an airtight indoor environment, it can significantly impact our cognitive functioning and make it difficult to concentrate.

High indoor air quality thus provides many benefits to worker health and wellbeing; it reduces sickness, decreases absenteeism, and helps raise productivity.

As employees are typically quoted as one of the most expensive costs of running a business, it follows that there is a strong return-on-investment in preserving high indoor air quality.

Second – How can EVORA help?

One way we assist our clients in this space at the asset-level is supporting the application of third-party health and wellbeing accreditation/certification schemes. Certification schemes offer a robust framework for discourse surrounding health and wellbeing in the built environment.

RESET Air (where RESET is short for Regenerative Ecological Social & Economic Targets) is one such certification scheme borne out of Shanghai, China in 2009. RESET Air certification has a focus on protecting human health by specifically targeting indoor air quality.

RESET Air is a sensor-based and performance-driven indoor air quality certification. RESET Air provides a standard for continuous monitoring of pollutants of concern, which must be below acceptable limits during hours of occupancy for a period of three months prior to certification. This level of performance must then be maintained forever more; projects are recertified annually to ensure indoor air quality continues to be within acceptable thresholds. Indoor air quality performance data must also be made publicly available to occupants of the building, continuously and in real time.

The pollutants of concerns include PM-2.5, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO).

There are two different RESET Air project types:

  • RESET Air for Commercial Interiors: The intent is to monitor the quality of air for occupants at the breathing level.
  • RESET Air for Core & Shell: The intent is to monitor the quality of air being delivered by the building’s HVAC system post-filtration.

For certification with either project type, the emphasis is on obtaining three months of data by deploying accredited monitors and providing the data in an acceptable format.

RESET Air is seeing considerable attention internationally and relatively rapid adoption, particularly in certain geographies. Additionally, RESET Air has recently been coordinating and harmonizing with other health and wellbeing certification programs, including WELL and Fitwel. This harmonization helps streamline project documentation for those projects looking to achieve multiple health and wellbeing certifications.

Exploring the nuances of certification schemes, including RESET Air, can get complicated and quickly!

EVORA has multiple RESET Air Accredited Professionals ready to help you understand the standard and – if appropriate – apply it to your project. Get in touch to find out how we can help your project achieve improved – and easier to communicate – health and wellbeing outcomes!

Fitwel: Five ways Fitwel could benefit you and your buildings

Fitwel was introduced in pilot form in 2014 and officially launched in November 2017. Current uptake statistics are impressive:

  • 95 buildings certified;
  • 620 projects registered;
  • 942 users; and,
  • 661 Fitwel ambassadors in over 22 countries.[1]

The concept of health and wellbeing has evolved over time and progressively broadened to incorporate a huge number of issues and considerations within the real estate sustainability sector. Certification schemes like Fitwel [and WELL] are commensurately wide-ranging, and cover factors related to the indoor environment as well as aspects such as healthy foods, outdoor amenities and green spaces, among others.

Critically, these schemes weight different issues according to their level of scientific evidence and their degree of impact on health. With its 63 evidence-based strategies, Fitwel enables recent research on health and wellbeing to be practically implemented in our daily lives, whether it is in our offices or homes. Its research background is robust, with over 3,000 scientific studies incorporated and input garnered from multiple stakeholders.[2]

Fitwel enables recent research on health and wellbeing to be practically implemented in our daily lives, whether it is in our offices or homes

I have personally embarked upon the health and wellbeing journey by initially qualifying as a Fitwel Ambassador. I have started in this way as I believe that health and wellbeing certifications offer several multidimensional benefits towards people, the environment and have the potential to materially contribute towards securing a better future for both.


Five major benefits of certifying your assets through Fitwel:

  1. Occupant health, wellbeing and productivity
    A healthier building improves occupants’ wellbeing, productivity and satisfaction, increasing employee retention rates, company attractiveness and reputation.
  2. Tenant attraction, retention, longer lease terms and capital value
    We have arrived at a time where location, aesthetics, condition [etc] are not the only ones that will influence and determine your building’s attractiveness. Fitwel could be a tool to improve your building’s facilities, efficiency and even originality, following sometimes only very minor changes.
  3. A framework for a stronger strategy for the future
    Fitwel helps you to verify your approach to health and wellbeing, incorporating health and safety procedures, procurement and supply chain, sustainability and transparency. Additionally, through recertification every three years, Fitwel ensures that your building performance is not only maintained but also [and ideally] continually improved.
  4. Better practices and behaviours contribute to wiser asset and resource management
    Fitwel could push the boundaries of your overall management strategy at the asset level, resulting in the delivery of not only health and wellbeing-related infrastructure improvements, but also general improvements in tenant engagement/management practices, which may ultimately lead to increases in tenant satisfaction. These can benefit the overall performance of the building and increase the property and facilities managers’ consideration and awareness of tenant needs.
  5. Science-based and continuously evolving
    Fitwel’s strategies follow the latest research on health and wellbeing. Aligning to Fitwel therefore provides a way to ensure that your buildings meet the current and future health and wellbeing related requirements of its occupants.

Finally, we all love better looking, more efficient and pleasant cities. Each building resembles a piece of a puzzle for a healthier and better looking future. Fitwel is a way of contributing to the wider community and be at the forefront of future innovation.

If you’d like to know more about health and wellbeing and the Fitwel certification, do not hesitate to get in touch with our consultancy team.


[1]The Business Case for Healthy Buildings: Insights from Early Adopters. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute, 2018
[2]Reference Guide for the Fitwel Certification System. Center for Active Design. New York, NY. Version 2. July 2018

GRESB Results 2017: How SIERA Delivered Immense Efficiencies

The GRESB Results 2017 are out and the EVORA team is eagerly reviewing the scorecards and reports to see how our participating clients fared. Early indications are that the news is generally excellent. EVORA will have a presence at the results event in London next week, so we look forward to joining the other attendees to get GRESB’s view on the overall direction of travel.

Visit our GRESB support service page.


As one of the members of EVORA’s GRESB delivery team, I’ve been reflecting on the journey we took over the summer months to get to this point.

From a numbers perspective, it’s interesting to me that the effort to collate, validate and aggregate many and often disparate data points gets distilled down to a handful of scores across the main GRESB Aspects. The process of data gathering is a necessary function and can take a lot of time, but it’s important that participants and their delivery partners allow for time to understand the materiality of the data in each of the Aspects in relation to their business strategies. However, this is easier said than done when delivery times can often get compressed near the submission deadline. So it’s even more important that there are tools that drive efficiency in the data gathering and validation process so that we can take a step back from the detail to understand what the data is showing us.

GRESB data gathering can take a huge amount of time. The good news is that much of it can be automated.Click To Tweet

For us as a delivery team, our system SIERA was vital in being able to provide the efficiencies we needed to be able to manage the sheer quantum of data that we were handling. The number of GRESB submissions that we were directly involved with delivering increased from last year by 57% to 36 in 2017. As many will appreciate, the sharp end of the data processing often relates to asset level data as this is more granular, so usually more assets means more data. To put this into context, in these direct submissions, we saw an 84% increase to just shy of 1000 assets collectively that without SIERA we would likely have found far more time consuming to manage.

New to SIERA? This video explains the software in less than 2 minutes.

SIERA is one of the systems that is helping with the shift away from manual entry to more automated transfer of data to the GRESB portal. Our Managing Director, Chris Bennett, wrote previously on how a more seamless transfer of data is welcome but it’s important we have visual clarity of the data being submitted. I’d like to explain a little more how SIERA helped provide both visual clarity but also massive efficiencies.

First of all, we had replicated GRESB’s Asset Level interface in SIERA so we could automate the transfer of not just the Performance Indicators but also a key set of qualitative asset level question responses and building characteristics. This meant that when we were happy with the data we could simply upload the SIERA template directly into the GRESB Portal and populate the Portfolio data, thus entirely removing the need to manually enter data into the GRESB Asset Spreadsheet.

This integration is only possible because SIERA’s database structure is fully aligned to GRESB’s data requirements. Even GHG calculations and waste volumes by disposal route are automatically calculated, which further reduces the chance of human error.

SIERA software significantly reduces the risks of human error when it comes to GRESB's data requirements.Click To Tweet

In 2017 we took SIERA beyond the Asset level interface to drive further efficiencies by automatically calculating the responses to a number of percentage coverage-related questions. Again, this was only possible due to SIERA’s ability to hold broad range of data types. For example, SIERA can store and profile EPC data for any EU region which meant that SIERA could automate the response to Q31, saving vast amounts of time using what would otherwise likely be spreadsheets. SIERA also replicated question RC 5.1 utilising the property characteristic information SIERA holds, which helped to align responses to the Performance Indicators.

The examples that I have highlighted in this post demonstrate how SIERA helped to save countless hours of data input which we typically estimated to be around a 70% time saving. EVORA is continuing to expand the question responses SIERA can auto-calculate and survey Aspects that can be more efficiently answered, so we look forward to being able to support on even more GRESB submissions in 2018.


Questions? Come and meet us at the GRESB Results 2017 Launch event in London on 13th September. To book a demonstration of SIERA, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

New Guidance on Climate Related Disclosure and Reporting

On December 14th 2016 the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate Related Disclosure published its long-awaited recommendation report. The report sets out recommendations for helping businesses disclose climate-related financial risks and opportunities.


The report states that the impact that global warming can have on economies is widely recognised.  However, at present, it is difficult for investors to know which companies are vulnerable to climate risks.  It is recognised that without financial disclosure, the financial impacts of climate change may not be effectively priced.  Pricing of risk is an essential function of financial markets.  It it is increasingly important to also understand the governance and risk management context in which financial results are achieved.

At present, it is difficult for investors to know which companies are vulnerable to climate risks.Click To Tweet

The Task Force states that non-financial disclosures should be:

  • Adoptable by all organisations
  • Included in financial filings
  • Designed to solicit decision-useful, forward-looking information on financial impacts
  • Strong focus on risks and opportunities related to transition to lower-carbon economy

The Task Force’s recommendations apply to all financial sector organisations including real estate asset managers and owners. Importantly, it is recognised that large asset owners and asset managers sit at the top of the investment chain and, therefore, have an important role to play in influencing the organisations in which they invest to provide better climate-related financial disclosures.

Recommendations are structured into four categories, as summarised below.

Governance

Organisations should disclose their governance approaches covering climate-related risks and opportunities.

Recommended disclosures:

  • The board’s oversight of climate-related risks and opportunities
  • Management’s role in assessing and managing climate-related risks and opportunities
Organisations should disclose their governance approaches covering climate-related risks and opportunities.Click To Tweet

Strategy

Organisations should disclose actual and potential impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities.

Recommended disclosures:

  • Climate related risks and opportunities the organisation has identified over the short, medium, and long term
  • The impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on the organisation’s businesses, strategy, and financial planning
  • The potential impact of different scenarios, including a 2°C scenario, on the organisations businesses, strategy, and financial planning (a clear link to the adoption of science based targets)
Organisations should disclose actual and potential impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities.Click To Tweet

Risk Management

Organisations should disclose how they identify, assesses, and manage climate-related risks.

Recommended disclosures:

  • Processes for identifying and assessing climate-related risks
  • Processes for managing climate-related risks
  • Processes for identifying, assessing, and managing climate- related risks are integrated into the organisation’s overall risk management
Organisations should disclose how they identify, assesses, and manage climate-related risk.Click To Tweet

Metrics and Targets

Organisations should disclose how metrics and targets are used to measure and manage risk.

Recommended disclosures:

  • Metrics used to assess climate risk
  • Scope 1, 2 and if appropriate (3) GHG emissions
  • Targets used to manage climate change risks and opportunities
Organisations should disclose how metrics and targets are used to measure and manage risk.Click To Tweet

To underpin these recommendations, the Task Force also sets out seven principles for effective disclosure.

  1. Disclosures should represent relevant information
  2. Disclosures should be specific and complete
  3. Disclosures should be clear, balanced, and understandable
  4. Disclosures should be consistent over time
  5. Disclosures should be comparable among companies within a sector, industry, or portfolio
  6. Disclosures should be reliable, verifiable, and objective
  7. Disclosures should be provided on a timely basis

The Task Force’s recommendations provide a foundation to improve investors’ and others’ ability to appropriately assess and price climate-related risks and opportunities.   They are wide ranging but also practical in the near term allowing the financial industry to develop and grow capability to report within a structured framework.

For information and if you want to get more involved, a public consultation to solicit views on the Task Force’s recommendations is now open until 12 February 2017 and can be accessed here.


EVORA is uniquely positioned to support commercial real estate organisations in the development and reporting of climate risk strategies through to implementation of management plans and collation and analysis of sustainability data using SIERA – our industry leading sustainability management software.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

EVORA is uniquely positioned to support commercial real estate organisations in the development and reporting of climate risk strategies.Click To Tweet