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Enter the global arena of building certifications, and it is acronyms aplenty: LEED, BREEAM, HQE, WELL, DGNB, CASBEE, NABERS, and many more.
While each agency has its own geographical focus and unique building certification process, what they share is a common goal: to make buildings environmentally friendly, safe for their occupants, and healthy places in which to live and work.
Adding value through certification
It is clear that properly certified buildings deliver many benefits – to investors, owners and occupants.
“The data tells the story,” says Satu Virkkunen, environment director for KONE Technology & Innovation.
“For example, the U.S. Green Building Council recently noted in their own research that their LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings produce about 34% fewer carbon dioxide emissions, use about 25% less energy, and consume about 11% less water than non-certified buildings.”
KONE became the first elevator company to join the U.S. Green Building Council back in 2003, and today it contributes to LEED credits covering energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation.
Similarly, building owners who require compliance with the internationally recognized BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Assessment Method) New Construction 2016 rating system will find comprehensive support from KONE in earning ENE06 credits for energy efficient transport systems and other categories.
“There is a host of studies that testifies these certifications deliver greater economic benefits to building owners, including higher occupancy rates, better resale values and faster turnaround times for the buildings being rented or leased,” says Virkkunen.
The air we breathe
But growing demand for green certified buildings is not limited to energy savings, economic benefits and meeting legislated mandates; the emerging trend now emphasizes higher performance in areas that affect lifestyle quality, such as lighting and air quality.
“We are seeing greater interest from our customers when it comes to indoor air quality,” says Virkkunen, adding that accordingly there’s an increased interest in the WELL certification, which advances health and well-being in buildings.
“This also supports the trend from both customers and investors to pay more attention to clean indoor air quality and material selections and take the best-in-class energy performance as a given,” she says.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that a building’s indoor air quality can be significantly more polluted than the air outside due mainly to the release of fumes caused by toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of walls, carpets, windowpanes and other equipment.”
To address this, KONE works with its supply chain on a daily basis to ensure that everyone, from those supplying the most basic level of raw materials through to those manufacturing final products, meets the detailed standards. Taking responsibility for the environment and sustainability more broadly is also a central part of the KONE Code of Conduct, signed by all KONE employees and suppliers.
As Virkkunen points out, it’s not really the certification, rather it’s all the work and effort put in to assure that the building can be certified. “Our environmental, occupational health and R&D teams work closely with our sourcing personnel so that those certification requirements are already taken into account at the earliest stages,” she says.