Health and Wellbeing Certification Standards 101

This post was co-authored by Oli Pye, Associate Director and Rhianne Menzies, Junior Sustainability Consultant

Momentum behind the topic of health and wellbeing in commercial real estate is building […no pun intended…] and we at EVORA are committed to expanding our expertise in this area significantly. We firmly believe that the health and wellbeing of building occupants is now a critical element of the wider sustainability agenda. Here we set out a post about Health and Wellbeing Certification Standards.

In support of this, we recently held our own wellbeing event in partnership with BRE as we were keen to bring operational assets into a discussion that has so far tended to focus on the new builds and major refurbishments.

Furthermore, and looking closer to home, we recently assessed the positive improvements to our own wellbeing in our office move earlier this year and published the results on our website for all to see.

As has been evidenced by the vast amounts of discussion around the WELL Building Standard, certification schemes have played and will continue to play a vital role in the evolution of the conversation around health and wellbeing. They not only provide standardised, third party-validated assessments that support performance benchmarking, but they are also used widely as key pieces of reference material for the industry.

So, which scheme(s) can be used to assess what type of building, at what cost, and to what level of rigour? And which scheme(s) should be consulted when developing an internal strategy to progress health and wellbeing?

Three key standards – Fitwel, WELL and Reset

As the number of certification schemes has recently begun to proliferate in earnest, we thought now would be an appropriate time to provide a brief introduction to the three front runners: WELL, Fitwel and RESET.

This blog forms the first in a series of health and wellbeing-related communications. Following this ‘introduction’ to the three dominant certification schemes, we will return to each scheme one by one and in greater detail. The next blog will take a detailed look at Fitwell, then we’ll tackle WELL and RESET.

(It is worth noting that established green building certification schemes such as BREEAM and LEED also cover aspects of health and wellbeing within their assessments. These schemes are not covered in this blog.)

Fitwel – Simpler, holistic, office-focussed, no mandatory credits, no onsite validation

Fitwel is a process for assessing the level to which a building supports the overall health and wellbeing of its users. It looks and feels like a normal building rating system – e.g. BREEAM or LEED – with its guidance document, assessment criteria and evidence requirements. Its assessment process is more straightforward, with photos taken on a mobile device providing sufficient evidence for many criteria and an online portal that serves as a one stop shop for guidance materials, pre-assessment, assessment and verification.

In our experience, Fitwel has been ‘on the scene’ in the UK for roughly 12 months. From the beginning, it has been touted across the industry as being easier and more cost-efficient than other schemes. This is undoubtedly true though it remains to be seen whether it’s correspondingly less prescriptive approach is accepted by the industry as being sufficiently robust. As of March 31st 2017, there were three projects in the process of achieving certification in the UK.

EVORA Global Fitwel Table

WELL Building Standard – Complex, holistic, robust, mandatory credits, onsite validation

Like Fitwel, The WELL Building Standard (‘WELL’) is an assessment routine that takes a holistic look at building-related health and wellbeing – the topics it covers ranges from indoor air quality to sleep. It also has all the hallmarks of a typical building rating system – guidance, criteria and evidence requirements etc. However, just 5 minutes with both manuals in front of you and it becomes very clear that they are quite different in their level of complexity. WELL assessment criteria are more prescriptive and unlike Fitwel they contain many mandatory performance standards that must be third-party validated.

WELL is undoubtedly the preeminent health and wellbeing assessment for buildings. With the first manual released in 2014, it has certainly been around the longest.

Despite its profile and the number of assets registering under the scheme, so far only a relatively small number of assets have seen it through to certification in the UK: 20 registered; 1 certified (as of 16th August 2017).

Costs were taken from the WELL ‘Pricing Calculator’

EVORA Global WELL Building Standard Table

RESETAir quality, robust, flexible, onsite validation

RESET (Regenerative, Ecological, Social & Economic Targets) is a modularised certification programme, currently covering just ‘Air’ – i.e. indoor air quality. According to their website, new modules to assess ‘Comfort’ and ‘Environment’ are in development.

RESET Air is a sensor-based certification programme that requires ongoing measurement via real-time monitors and communication of results directly to users. It’s stated aims are to standardise and validate the quality of sensors, their installation and calibration. It also sets standards for overall performance and reporting the results to building occupants. RESET does not prescribe any routes to compliance (i.e. design criteria); instead, it is entirely results-based. There are a number of completed certifications in Asia, although we are not currently aware of any completed certifications in the UK.

Costs were taken from the RESET ‘Pricing Calculator’

EVORA Global Reset standard table

Health and Wellbeing Certification Standards – Concluding Remarks

Fitwel – If you want a relatively quick and cost-efficient third-party verified stamp of approval for new or existing assets. Challenges may arise in conveying the relevance of the standard to prospective and existing tenants, however, it should provide an effective framework for discussions.

WELL – A belt and braces design, assessment and certification routine. Likely a higher cost option, when considering certification, consultancy and capital expenditure fees but correspondingly robust and well received across the industry. Certainly, one to consider for ‘lighthouse’ schemes going through construction or major refurbishment. The manual is freely available and so provides a useful reference guide for those wanting to benchmark and or update their strategic approach to health and wellbeing without going for full certification.

RESET – One to watch closely and in the short term. There is a real need for standardisation around sensor calibration and implementation and air quality is arguably the first health and wellbeing aspect that as an industry we need to get right. It is easy to imagine a procedure like this becoming a statutory responsibility in the near future, particularly in public (e.g. schools) and health/social-care related buildings. Forward-thinking corporate occupiers are also likely to be highly interested in this scheme.

Interested in exploring health and wellbeing risks and opportunities relating to your portfolio? Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.

110 Seconds To Understand How SIERA Sustainability Software Can Help You

Watch Our New Video Now!

Watch our new animated explainer video for SIERA, which gives you a high-level overview of everything our innovative sustainability software solution can do for you.

Depending on where you are and how convenient it is to watch a video, you can:

1.     Watch the video with the sound on – recommended

2.     Watch the video with the sound off – the captions will allow you to follow along

3.     Read the video script, which is pasted below for your convenience

We hope you enjoy the video and that you will want to learn more by attending one of our webinar demonstrations or getting in touch to book a one-to-one demo.

Thanks for watching!

SIERA Sustainability Software – the right choice for your business

Video Script

Every year, environmental management becomes more complex and reporting requirements become more stringent.

Which is why the sustainability experts at EVORA came up with SIERA – a unique and innovative software solution.

Not only does SIERA make all your sustainability reporting easy – it also enables you to quickly identify energy savings in your buildings.

[clickToTweet tweet=”SIERA makes sustainability reporting easy and enables you to identify energy savings in buildings” quote=”Not only does SIERA make all your sustainability reporting easy – it also enables you to quickly identify energy savings in your buildings”]

Never before has collecting and validating your environmental data been so easy. Whether it’s automating data collection, or dragging and dropping your data from Excel files, SIERA makes a complex process simple.

The intelligent modelling capability covers a range of regulatory and voluntary reporting requirements, quickly and intuitively.

In fact, SIERA saves our clients up to 70% of their time spent on GRESB reporting.

SIERA also gives you an overview of your property and portfolio performance, helping you mitigate regulatory risk and prioritise improvement opportunities.

SIERA’s ground-breaking Energy Monitoring and Targeting module automatically alerts you to energy efficiency opportunities.

Savings are easy to identify and can be achieved without any capital expenditure.

[clickToTweet tweet=”SIERA gives an overview of property/portfolio performance, helping mitigate regulatory risk” quote=”SIERA gives you an overview of property and portfolio performance, helping you mitigate regulatory risk and prioritise improvement opportunities”]

Whether you’re seeking a hands-on solution, or a fully managed service with EVORA’s expert consultants – SIERA is the right choice for your business.

SIERA is already managing over 4,000 properties and is being rapidly adopted by large organisations across the globe.

Isn’t it time you used SIERA too?

 To learn more about SIERA and discover how it can save you time, stress, and money, please get in touch today to arrange a demonstration.


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.

How to host an effective energy management strategy workshop

Get stuck into the discussion

“The projector doesn’t work!!!”  My colleague Paul Sutcliffe and I had just arrived at Liverpool ONE to deliver an energy management strategy workshop and we were setting up.  Concern, led to frustration – mostly on my part (I had spent a significant amount of time working on the materials).  Then attendees started arriving.

Our brief for the day was to hold an energy workshop with staff at Liverpool ONE – each attendee represented different departments. This was to act as a starting point for roll out of an energy strategy.

We had to make a call.  Delay things whilst we sorted technology out or get stuck into discussions around an interesting subject with a group of truly engaged people.  We chose the latter –  and what a choice!

Slides were put up on laptop screens, as background information, and attendees would periodically refer to slide packs for information throughout the sessions (so my preparation time was not wasted).

One of the first questions posed to the workshop attendees was a simple “Why Bother?”. A challenging and somewhat risky ice breaker, but responses flowed with many reasons suggested – It was apparent, from the start, that this was a topic close to team member’s hearts!

Identify barriers and opportunities

The lack of a formal presentation at the front of the room acted to open up the workshop.  We ran a series of facilitated discussions that picked through issues and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses.  This led to some great results. As a group we:

  • Identified and documented real opportunities to improve energy management across the whole leisure and retail estate (including technological, operational and behavioural aspects) – issues that will now be progressed
  • Agreed on the need for granular level energy data across the estate
  • Highlighted the barriers faced which need to be overcome in order to succeed
  • Agreed that a structured management system approach was necessary

Liverpool ONE has already made significant progress when it comes to environmental and energy management (the centre is ISO 14001 certified and has already installed a large solar photo voltaic array). However, commitment and engagement to take energy management forward was clear.

Know your subject and prepare well!

The workshop was enjoyable, engaging, successful and benefitted everyone – the attendees and consultants.  The information collected will be used to formulate and further develop Liverpool ONE’s energy strategy.

However, we must always keep learning as consultants.  At EVORA we have been working on our presentations for a long time now always work to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ but the Liverpool ONE session really brought this home.  Some take-aways from me as a consultant:

  • Know your subject
  • Prepare well
  • Use slides to augment discussion – ask yourself ‘do they add value?’

And, don’t trust technology!

To speak to one of the team about supporting your energy management strategy, contact us.

Six weeks in the life of an EVORA Data Analyst

The EVORA team has grown by 108% since May last year. Jenny, our new EVORA Data Analyst tells us what the first six weeks of EVORA life have been like.

Straight into GRESB deadline season

I joined as an EVORA Data Analyst at an extremely busy time of the year, it was the business end of the GRESB window, which resulted in me being plunged into the deep end from my first day. After my initial induction where I learnt more about EVORAs recent expansion I began on my first (of many!) GRESB tasks. GRESB was a completely new concept to me, and the amount of data which needed to be collected and analysed was mind-boggling, but thankfully we had SIERA to take a lot of the pain away. Whilst being given responsibility on the first day can be a little bit daunting it was great for me as the usual first day nerves didn’t have time to take hold. The main problem was the fact that it was the hottest day of the year and everyone in the office was melting!

CRC – allowances, annual reports and data audits

With GRESB behind us just a couple of weeks after joining, the CRC deadline was then looming. At University, I had briefly studied the CRC so I knew the basic principles and the intention of the legislation. However, I wasn’t aware of the amount of data which needed to be collated and the amount of money our clients pay for allowances in order to ensure compliance. Calculating the allowances, compiling annual reports and completing data audits resulted in me taking a lot on board in a short space of time – which was a steep learning curve. I was shocked to discover that following the 2018-19 reporting year the government are scrapping the CRC. Whilst it may be considered overly burdensome with regards to the time taken to collate the data and general administration – it at least keeps energy on the business agenda. Whilst adding extra monies onto electricity and gas bills (after 2019) is going to result in a similar amount of monies going into the government purses it doesn’t exactly have the same impact on business as ordering £200,000 worth of carbon allowances!

I was shocked to discover that following the 2018-19 reporting year the government are scrapping the CRC. Whilst it may be considered overly burdensome with regards to the time taken to collate the data and general administration – it at least keeps energy on the business agenda

SIERA – collate and analyse vast data sets quickly and easily

In addition to the GRESB and CRC deadlines, quarterly performance reporting has become a huge part of my daily life at EVORA. With the assistance of SIERA I collate and analyse vast data sets of electricity, gas and water consumption across various assets for multiple clients. The most rewarding part is when the performance reports we produce directly help to focus the facilities and building managers on the areas which matter. For example, we recently issued a quarterly performance report to a building manager which highlighted poor gas performance. Within an hour, emails had been sent to tenants asking about their heating requirements and the M&E engineer was investigating potential issues with the boilers. Without our reports – none of that would have happened, they might have just noticed that their bill was a bit higher for the quarter. I find this part of my job extremely fulfilling as these reports directly help our clients to discover their inefficiencies, improve the performance of their assets and ultimately save money.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s rewarding when performance reports directly help facilities/building managers on areas which matter” quote=”The most rewarding part of this is when the performance reports we produce directly helps to focus the facilities and building managers on the areas which matter.”]

When I mentioned at the start of this blog that I joined EVORA at a particularly busy time of the year I was wrong. I don’t think there ever is a quiet time of the year at EVORA! I have joined EVORA at an exciting time; the recent rapid expansion of the company demonstrates just how in demand our services are. I can’t wait to get stuck into the next task sent my way (potentially Environmental Management System work or shadowing an energy audit). Here’s to the next six weeks!

You can keep up to date with vacancies at EVORA on our social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

ESOS Phase 2 Practical Hints and Tips

This post follows on from the article that my colleague, Neil Dady wrote, ‘ESOS Phase 2 – It’s time to start planning‘ which provides a clear overview of requirements and further detail is available online. I’m not going to go over old ground but instead, I set out a few ESOS Phase 2 practical hints and tips.

Don’t forget the purpose – identify energy saving opportunities

ESOS was developed to help businesses identify energy saving opportunities.  Legislation often gets a bad press, however, the principles here are laudable.  A strategy that identifies savings, then importantly, acts to implement them (something missing in the legislation and a step that is up to the participants) can only be a good thing.  Reducing energy consumption has many benefits:

  • Lowered costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Improved corporate responsibility
  • The ability to wrap up into tenant engagement programmes

[clickToTweet tweet=”A strategy that identifies savings, then acts to implement them, can only be a good thing” quote=”A strategy that identifies savings, then importantly, acts to implement them (something missing in the legislation and a step that is up to the participants) can only be a good thing.”]

ISO 50001 – a structured approach to understanding and improving energy performance

If you want to get ISO 50001 up and running, start now.

The international standard for energy management, provides a structured approach to understanding and improving energy performance, however, implementation cannot be rushed through. As Neil highlights in his recent blog, organisations that wish to use ISO 50001 as the compliance route should start work now.

As many will know, organisations with ISO 50001 do not have to complete audits, however, it is a mistake to think that this simplifies matters.  ISO 50001 is not an easy way forward.  It requires completion of a baseline assessment and the establishment of objectives for improvement.  As a result, organisations that operate ISO 50001 management system will have also completed audits in some format.

As many will know, organisations with ISO 50001 do not have to complete audits, however, it is a mistake to think that this simplifies matters.

Those in real estate should also note that ISO 50001 does not count towards GRESB points, whereas ISO 14001 certification does.  Although this is something we are lobbying GRESB on, I can understand the reasoning.  GRESB is a sustainability benchmarking scheme, ISO 14001 requires consideration of all significant environmental issues, whereas ISO 50001 is focused on energy only.

Audits for compliance – beware of changing portfolios

Obligated organisations must assess energy consumption over 12 months, which must include the qualification date of 31 December 2018.  90% of energy identified must then be assessed.  As a result, auditing assets now, solely to comply with ESOS, would be a waste of time if the assets were then sold before the qualification date.

Audit anyway – the savings start to add up

Despite the above point, audits will still identify improvement opportunities that reduce energy consumption.  Subject to wider asset management plans (redevelopment, sale etc), I would recommend that audits are completed on all assets with an energy spend of over £200,000 per year – irrespective of ESOS obligations. Our audit team typically find quick win savings of 5% and often more (5% on a £200,000 spend per year equates to £10,000 – with a typical payback of less than a year).  Apply these principles to a portfolio of 10 assets and the savings start to add up significantly.

[clickToTweet tweet=”We typically find quick win savings of 5% or more. Apply this to 10 assets and the savings add up” quote=”Our audit team typically find quick win savings of 5% and often more (5% on a £200,000 spend per year equates to £10,000 – with a typical payback of less than a year).”]

EVORA employs a team of Energy Auditors and ESOS Lead Assessors.  For further information, do not hesitate to call or email.