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!

GRESB 2019 pre-release: a review of the tweaks and refinements

GRESB has broadly taken a “don’t fix what ain’t broke” approach to the 2019 survey, with the pre-release revealing that only minor changes to the reporting framework have been made from last year.

This is perhaps a sign that, after ten years of development, GRESB are settling on a long-term formula for the majority of the questionnaire. This consistency will enable real estate funds and sustainability professionals to focus more on delivering improvement programmes and less on dealing with shifting reporting expectations, thereby maximising the benefit that GRESB participation will bring about.

Steps have also been taken to reduce reporting burden, with evidence requirements removed from ME2 (data management system) and SE8.1 (tenant satisfaction surveys) where past evidence acceptance rates were high. While EVORA generally supports attempts to reduce reporting burden, removing evidence requirements is potentially an integrity risk, particularly in this instance regarding SE8.1. Open text boxes removed from RO5/6/7 (implemented measures), PI1.2/2.2/3.2 (intensity calculations) and NC7.2 (net zero buildings) where the information was not considered to be adding sufficient value for the effort required.

While EVORA generally supports attempts to reduce reporting burden, removing evidence requirements is potentially an integrity risk

Despite the pursuit of consistency, GRESB is still recognising the real estate industry’s shifting goalposts by introducing two two-part questions to the stakeholder engagement section (SE12 and SE13) on the implementation of programmes for the promotion and improvement of health & wellbeing. These are at organisation (i.e. your employees) and asset level respectively. A selection of other references to health & wellbeing has also been introduced throughout the survey, acknowledging the growing importance of this theme in real estate.

The Resilience Module is also entering its second year, and we await further details of this with intrigue. This topic continues to gain significant momentum amongst our clients and in the industry as a whole, and we expect GRESB will acknowledge this through its updates to the Module and the subsequent introduction to the main survey in the coming years.

If anything, I would argue that it’s the “checked” and “verified” categories that could be merged

Perhaps the most controversial change to the Survey is that “verification” and “assurance” of data will be scored equally. Having been through the assurance process with clients in the past, I can vouch that it is extremely thorough and, in my view, warrants the additional points it receives. If anything, I would argue that it’s the “checked” and “verified” categories that could be merged, as the lines of definition between these two are generally more blurred.

Overall, EVORA supports GRESB’s approach of striving for consistency whilst acknowledging new industry themes, and we look forward to continuing to drive innovation and transformation through its delivery in 2019.


EVORA Global GRESB Premier PartnerWe 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.

Contact us to see how we can help you.

GRESB 2019: What are your limiting factors?

It feels like not too long ago, the GRESB reporting season reached its climax and our consultants breathed a sigh of relief, dubbing last year as one of our busiest GRESB periods yet.

Ironically, it’s set to get even busier for us this year with our team expected to support close to 90 submissions, quite a leap from the 70 submissions we supported on last year.

But how do we manage to accurately support all these submissions you may ask?


EVORA has had a close working relationship with GRESB over the last six years and has been supporting clients with the survey ever since. The depth of experience we’ve gained over this time enables us to support first-class submissions for our clients. To a large extent, our efforts are powered by our proprietary sustainability software, SIERA, which seamlessly transfers data into the GRESB portal reducing what we well know is a time-intensive process.

Getting outstanding results (where targeted), which is the much coveted five-star rating, comes with being recognised as an industry leader and speaks highly of you to investors and stakeholders. However, to achieve GRESB success we often find that there are limiting factors that can hold participants back from reaching their end goal.

With our experience in supporting clients right from the early stages through to market leadership, we seek to address common limiting factors that get in the way of achieving high GRESB ratings.

Have you identified areas where you can improve scoring opportunities?

“It’s the little things that matter!”

To bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be, spend some time reviewing/analysing last year’s scores and define an action plan for this year’s survey aligned with your fund’s sustainability strategy and objectives. If this is your first GRESB assessment, consider each of the sustainability aspects within the survey and review the availability of sustainability performance data such as utility data, technical audits, and stakeholder engagement programmes. Allocate roles and responsibilities within the business, a timeline for completion and track progress.

Don’t forget to review changes to the survey questions within the pre-release document, which is available now!

Is there a coordinated approach within the organisation for submitting supporting evidence?

As we well know, a lot of supporting evidence that broadly covers ESG (Environmental Social & Governance) topics is required throughout the survey. It gets even trickier if you have an international portfolio and you work with multiple stakeholders.

Put a structure in place for collating and preparing evidence required early! Engage with internal and external stakeholders to ensure they understand what is required of them to ensure a smooth submission process.

Are there efficient processes in place for collating and submitting PI (performance indicators) data?

Collating asset level data can be quite a challenge for organisations with large portfolios, however, the PI aspect of GRESB accounts for 25.6% of the overall marks; the highest weighting of all seven aspects.

As we always say, focus on transparency, quality, and automation as much as possible. For example, with our software SIERA, we support clients to collate asset level data, provide verification, analyse and support submissions.

To provide an even more streamlined process to the GRESB survey we are set to release exciting updates to our SIERA software prior to April 2019 – keep your eyes peeled.

How would you respond to new ESG trends included within the survey this year?

The GRESB 2019 survey includes select questions from the previously optional Health & Wellbeing module. Prepare in advance by studying the pre-release document which sets out the key changes and will let you draw up an approach your organisation may take in responding to these. Keeping an eye on the weighting will help you to take a strategic view when identifying key focus areas for GRESB 2019.

Health and wellbeing is a broad topic and as such we recommend you engage with a variety of key stakeholders (considering internal programmes and what’s happening within your portfolio) to draw out key considerations. This could be across health, safety, crime, wellbeing, accessibility and inclusivity.

Implement a monitoring procedure which you can easily report on, that reflects these activities such as tenant satisfaction surveys, IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) assessments etc.

Final thoughts

With each limiting factor that you eliminate, you accelerate the rate at which you progress towards enhanced fund performance and GRESB success. EVORA can offer advice on overcoming any of these factors that are limiting your potential.

Read our GRESB eBook here for a comprehensive guide on how to prepare your assets and portfolio for success in the GRESB 2019 reporting cycle.

To make it easy on yourself and others, get in touch and our team of experts will be happy to help.

EVORA Staff Benefits: living our Values

EVORA strives to be an open-minded, culture-driven company that really believes in our people, individually and collectively. Over the years, we have built a team of like-minded colleagues and it is fair to say, our people really are at the heart of everything we do and achieve.

Over the past 36 months our niche team has tripled and we now have 41 full-time staff. We have taken additional space in our fantastic offices in London out for more on that, coming soon!) as well as new office space across the country to accommodate growth in Bolton, our engineering team in Shrewsbury, the software team in Birmingham and the finance team in Farnham!

As we have grown, we have not compromised on our culture and values. Maintaining an environment that is supportive and inclusive and provides the flexibility that allows the team to work in a healthy, balanced workplace has been key. Following on from a consultation with the whole team last year, we are excited to launch our enhanced staff benefits for all staff which includes:

  • Increased pension contribution – EVORA match contributions up to a maximum of 10% dependent on seniority
  • Increased holiday allowance – from a base of 25 days, staff will accrue an extra days holiday for each year served up to 30 days
  • Sabbatical – After 3 years of continuous service, staff will be given an additional 5 days holiday and the ability to take a month’s sabbatical
  • Flexible working – Staff now have the ability to work flexibly, both in relation to home working and flexible hours.
  • Maternity package – we now have a generous maternity package
  • Healthcare – comprehensive private Healthcare with loads of benefits is now in place
  • Bonding with nature – All staff are now given a plant to adopt and care for, in a bid to improve our indoor air quality
  • FUN – we have provided a games console in our London HQ and also provided board games for staff to use during their lunch or after work

This is all in addition to the many benefits we already have in place.

They say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We believe that by consulting with our staff, and providing them with an environment in which they thrive, we build a strong team, which delivers value to our clients.

Watch our video to find out more about the team!

We are always on the lookout for outstanding individuals. You can learn more about what it’s like to work for EVORA on our Jobs Page and find details of our current vacancies.