Rating Tools

In developing the Requirements Brief, occupiers should be aware of the main rating tools available in the UK market for assessing the environmental and health & wellbeing aspects of a fit-out project.

This section provides a headline comparison between the five main tools:

1. Benefits of Rating Tools

Rating tools provide a number of benefits to owners and occupiers in relation to fit-out projects. These include:

  • Providing a clear framework for identifying and delivering sustainability outcomes.
  • The ability to easily set and agree targets between project team.
  • Easily communicating performance to stakeholders with clear and simple language. This includes marketing a space for a property owner and demonstrating commitment and action corporately for an occupier.
  • Allowing informed comparison between different buildings and/or fit-outs.
  • Providing independent assurance of the delivery of outcomes.

Many owners, developers and occupiers have made voluntary commitments to achieve certain ratings. Local Planning Authorities can also stipulate achieving specific ratings through Planning Conditions which may impact fit-out requirements for newly constructed properties.

2. Providing a Comparison

In terms of similarities, each tool considers the proposed project against a range of criteria – these commonly cover both the materiality of the fit-out, as well as the impacts during occupancy. Commitment to good and best practice measures is recognised with credits/points, and the total score is translated to a rating, e.g. gold, silver, bronze, or outstanding, excellent, very good etc.

BREEAM is a UK-established rating tool, and is the most established in the UK office market. LEED is a US-established tool developed with strong overseas presence and relatively low UK uptake. Whereas BREEAM and LEED fit-out tools developed from their respective “whole building” tools, SKA was developed with a pure fit-out focus. It is managed by the RICS and its presence is mainly in the UK. Fitwel and the WELL Building Standard are relative newcomers, with a low UK presence. Their focus on health & wellbeing differentiates them from the other predominately environmentally focussed tools, but also allows them to be used in combination with them.

A number of tools can be used in combination, with both BRE and the International WELL Building Institute documenting the alignment of their respective schemes in the report Assessing Health and Wellbeing in Buildings: Alignment between BREEAM and the WELL Building Standard.

A headline comparison matrix for the main rating tools that can support fit-out projects is provided below. When considering using a rating tool, owners and occupiers should be guided by consultation with their stakeholders and designers to identify the option that most suitably aligns to their aspirations.