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​Leading developers, contractors and property advisers collaborate to create a 'sustainability kitemark' for existing commercial buildings

A new holistic measure of sustainability across economic, environmental and social performance

LONDON, 25th September, 2014 – A new holistic measure of sustainability performance for occupied buildings has been co created by leading property advisors designed to evaluate an existing buildings performance against 3 key sustainability aspects – economic, environmental and social performance.

Despite the plethora of tools and rating systems available to measure the energy and environmental performance of buildings, few if any are yet able to evaluate these sustainability aspects with little consensus even over a methodology to measure operational energy in use. The kitemark initiative co-created by JLL, Bennetts Associates, Stanhope Plc, Skanska Infrastructure Services and RPC will be initially tested across different types of office buildings in the UK before being rolled out more widely.

The purpose of the kitemark is to evaluate only those aspects of the building that could have some impact on its investment performance, including location, energy performance, ongoing resource use, economic potential and occupant wellbeing. One of the key objectives was to ensure that the kitemark would be simple and easy to interpret, whilst avoiding the temptation to amalgamate the appraisal into one common denominator and producing an overall score or rating system. Instead, the intention is to demonstrate a building's relative performance against five separate issues, each considered material to its overall sustainability.

By way of example, the kitemark below on the left represents the performance of a small Central London design studio, contrasted with the kitemark on the right which is illustrative of an out of town low energy office building. The principle of the kitemark is that dark green represents the best performance and red the worst – with a gradation of greens and yellows in between.  This corresponds with the shading used for Display Energy Certificates, that the industry is now well familiar with. 

Out of Town Low Energy Office Building



Small Central London Design Studio



Mark Stupples, COO at JLL, said: "Property players ought to be prepared for transparency about the sustainability performance of buildings they own or occupy. We're an industry that relies on numbers – be it floor areas, rental values, or discounted cashflow calculations. To transform practices amongst property decision-makers we must find simple yet robust ways to measure the environmental and social parameters alongside the economic ones. I feel confident that this initiative will push owners in the right direction in creating high quality and sustainable workspace, and help occupiers make sensible decisions on the buildings they choose to occupy."

Rab Bennetts, co-founder of Bennetts Associates, architects, commented: "There is a need for a rating method that differentiates between different properties on the basis of their sustainability credentials, such that it could and should affect their commercial value.  Our creation of a simple kitemark considers a maximum of five performance indicators of building performance and impact each of which should be of direct relevance to existing or prospective investors.  BREEAM has shown how a rating scheme can win market support for newbuilds, so the kitemark is intended to be graphically simple and easy to adopt in the market for existing buildings"

Andrew Highton, head of Engineering Services and Sustainable Development at Stanhope, said: "Stanhope's own research has shown that true sustainability of buildings is far wider than the simple reflection of onsite energy use and materials selections generally perceived. The kitemark seeks to combine various commonly used metrics with other broader objectives to create a more complete picture. This will allow all Stakeholders to compare buildings for investment, re-development or rental on a like for like, more holistic basis to allow a more informed decision making processes."

Greg Craig, managing director of Skanska Infrastructure Services, added: "Purchasers and occupiers of buildings are provided with considerable amounts of information to influence their decision making process but it's usually biased towards the commercial considerations of the deal. In order to get the decision right, the sustainability and environmental variables also need to be considered. Hopefully this new tool will allow property decision makers to take a wider view before making their decision, ultimately leading to a requirement for better and more efficient buildings."

David Johnston, partner at RPC, said: "The kitemark has the potential to make the sustainability credentials of buildings and the impact they have on the people who use them accessible to owners, occupiers and employees alike - all of whom play a part in making our existing buildings more efficient and better places to work.  It will use data that is already being recorded by businesses but will be in a form that is easy for all to understand.  We understand the energy ratings when we buy a fridge or fuel economy figures when we buy a car – why not do the same for buildings?"

The methodology of the kitemark will be tested on a range of different buildings with a view of refining the process through future research. For the initiative to be successfully adopted, funding will be needed to create a digital platform that allows building users or occupiers to self-test against the kitemark.