Certifications, labels and standards are all measures that must be observed or used to meet various requirements. They are set by specialised bodies responsible for ensuring proper adherence and quality of action. In the real estate sector, they mainly address issues concerning the environment, society or energy. However, the measures vary depending on the purpose and the assets concerned. In order to better understand them and benefit from a common language, our booklet Buzzwords – Labels and Certifications deciphers each of these drivers of quality and trust.
Certification, label and standard – what exactly are they?
A measure that demonstrates compliance with applicable standards and sometimes with additional specifications for a building against set criteria, certification takes, for example, the environment, digital technology and well-being into account. It applies to the entire building lifecycle: from design to construction to operation, in addition to renovation. The certification process is carried out by an independent body, the certifying body, accredited by the public authorities. For example, the French certification NF HQETM Commercial Buildings (High Environmental Quality, Trademark) assesses a building on many criteria grouped into four main themes: energy, environment, and the comfort and health of its occupants. This certification, which is undertaken voluntarily, is today the most widespread in France for office real estate. In the residential sector, NF Habitat certification attests to the essential technical qualities for safe, secure and comfortable housing. Besides the office and residential sectors, there are also numerous certifications in the hospitality, retail and logistics sectors.
A label is based on a framework (energy, digital, well-being, biodiversity, etc.) defined by a trade union or association. Its role is to attest to the specific quality of a building or service in a particular area. There are numerous such examples. Effinergy labels specifically describe the energy performance of a building beyond regulatory requirements. The BiodiverCity label meanwhile, created in 2013, rates and shows how effective particularly successful real estate projects are for biodiversity. Due to the urban positioning of logistics platforms, the label is often used to describe the relationship between operations and the natural environment.
Finally, the standard concerns regulations drawn up directly by the public authorities. The various players in the real estate sector must respect it regardless of its area of application (environment, health, safety, etc.). The building itself can amass certifications and labels. Out of conviction and in order to meet the expectations of an international customer base, promoters and investors do not hesitate to aim for double or triple certifications.
What are the criteria of tomorrow?
Faced with major developments, whether societal, economic or environmental, we are witnessing the appearance of new evaluation frameworks for real estate. Indeed, real estate certifications and labels have become a standard for design, construction and operation.
The carbon footprint is a real issue for the real estate sector, seeing as it generates greenhouse gas emissions. Certifications and labels are therefore becoming increasingly important. Materials, energy-efficient know-how, or even the building that produces energy beyond its needs help to reduce the carbon footprint. Another criterion is employee well-being! Since people are more than ever the central concern for real estate players, health and comfort are a priority. In order to achieve that goal, air quality, thermal and sound insulation as well as various services contribute to the user experience.