The most important ESG real estate certificates at a glance

Certificates are increasingly used by investors and tenants like when it comes to looking at a building’s sustainability credentials.

Jonathan Eade

ESG Lead

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In real estate, certificates are important tools for recognizing and rewarding buildings that demonstrate high levels of sustainability and responsibility. They come into their own given the lack of globally accepted rules and standards but don’t usually come cheap. Having any of these certificates certainly helps with their marketing and ESG profile too, particularly if they obtain high scores and ratings.

Globally, there are several widely recognized and respected ESG real estate certificates that are used to evaluate and certify the sustainability performance of buildings, communities, and infrastructure. Here is a brief overview of some of the most important ESG real estate certificates in Europe:

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method)

BREEAM Logo

BREEAM is the most widely used internationally and is a sustainability assessment method for buildings, communities, and certain infrastructure. It evaluates a property's environmental performance, including its impact on water, energy, materials, and waste, as well as its transport, health and well-being, and land use and ecology. BREEAM certification can help a property attract tenants and investors who value sustainability, and it can also lead to cost savings through reduced energy and water use.

Website: https://breeam.de/

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

US Green Building Council USGBC Logo

LEED is similarly a recognized sustainability certification system for buildings, homes, and communities. It is based around a points system that evaluates a property's energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and other sustainability factors. While LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it is also widely used in Europe as well. Like the other leading certification bodies, using LEED should help reduce utility costs, and often command higher rental rates and sale prices.

Website: https://www.usgbc.org/leed

DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen)

DGNB

DGNB - also internationally used - is a widely used German sustainability certification system for buildings, neighbourhoods, and certain infrastructure that evaluates a property's environmental, economic, and social performance. DGNB certification is based on a comprehensive set of criteria that covers a wide range of sustainability factors, including energy efficiency, water conservation, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. DGNB certification can help a property attract tenants and investors who value sustainability and it can also lead to cost savings through reduced energy and water use. Though a full assessment does not come cheap, the far less cumbersome pre-assessments can give a good indication of what scoring a property could obtain were a full inspection to be carried out. #

Website: https://www.dgnb.de/de/

HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale)

HQE

HQE is a French sustainability certification system and also evaluates a property's environmental, economic, and social performance too. Perhaps less widely used internationally, HQE certification is nevertheless based on a similar set of criteria and covers a wide range of sustainability factors, including energy efficiency, water conservation, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

Website: https://www.hqegbc.org/

WELL

International WELL Building Institute

Is becoming increasingly relevant and is focused more on the inside of buildings and a building’s impact on those who work or live there. It pays particular attention to areas such as human health and wellbeing, air quality, water quality, nourishment, lighting , fitness, comfort, and mind amongst others. It is also a performance-based system and leads to WELL certification assuming certain criteria are met on an on-going basis.

Website: https://www.wellcertified.com

These are just a few examples of the most important ESG real estate certificates in Europe. Each one has its own specific focus and criteria, and any of them can help a property stand out as a leader in sustainability and responsibility. It goes without saying there is also significant overlap between them too. However, by earning one or more of these certificates, a property can easily demonstrate its commitment to ESG values, and it can potentially attract tenants and investors who share those values too.

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December 16, 2022

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