As issues such as climate change and social awareness continue to grow in prominence for both businesses and the individuals they employ; The last few years have seen sustainability gaining momentum as a consideration for hundreds of company offices across the UK as they attempt to improve their environmental friendliness. In fact, now many organisations are actively seeking to improve their performance in terms of sustainability through participation in recognised sustainability programmes and accreditations, and a great time to consider this is during an office fit-out or refurbishment.
So what are the options available to a business looking to improve its environmental credentials while planning or undertaking an office fit-out or refurbishment? Should you choose BREEAM or Ska? We asked our Sustainability Consultant Emma Jolly to take us through the basics of each, starting this week with SKA Ratings.
What is a Ska Rating?
The Ska Rating is the environmental assessment method and sustainability award body of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and was launched in 2009. Ska Ratings are designed to help landlords and tenants evaluate, rate and benchmark their projects against a set of sustainability criteria.
Ska Ratings are assessed using over a hundred “good practice” measures which cover everything from energy and CO2 emissions to wellbeing and transport. As Ska does not consider the base build, it measures only what you do to add sustainability to your property. This makes Ska a particularly attractive environmental assessment method for office fit-outs and refurbishments.
Because every office fit-out is different, Ska ratings only scores your fit-out on the project’s relevant measures (typically between 30 and 60 measures), which are referred to as “Measures in Scope”. The score for each of these measures is then ranked into three thresholds: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each of these thresholds is reached by achieving 25%, 50% or 75% of the measures required respectively.
What are the benefits of Ska Ratings?
Ska Ratings have the potential to offer a wide range of benefits to your business. Some of the most apparent include:
Reduction in operational costs and carbon emissions
As demonstrated by the UK Green Building Council’s estimation that commercial buildings account for 18% of UK carbon emissions, office buildings tend to be large consumers of both energy and water, and produce a sizable portion of greenhouse gases.
By adhering to the environmental good practices outlined as part of the Ska Rating criteria, your business could benefit from reductions in operational costs, and improvements in energy efficiency and carbon emissions.
If you’re looking to incorporate attaining a Ska rating into a fit-out or refurbishment project; Ska encourages the identification and reduction of waste and material use during the assessment process, which could reduce costs and the embodied energy tied to your planned office fit-out project. As some buildings may have between 30 – 40 fit-outs during their lifecycle, a methodology to reduce the cost and waste generated by these is an easily identifiable business benefit.
While the Ska Rating system focuses on many aspects of a building’s sustainability, one particular assessment criteria is concerned with the provision of a healthy office environment which supports your employees’ well-being. As there are numerous studies showing that this approach can help decrease staff absenteeism and increase your workforce’s motivation; the consideration for your staff’s personal well-being during your next fit-out could see you reaping the long term benefits of a happier (and healthier) workforce.
Better Brand Image
Your business’ environmental awareness could be the key to increasing your brand presence or customer base. Achieving a Ska Rating is a fantastic way to let everybody know that your company considers its social and environmental impact and responsibilities. This in turn could lead to positive brand awareness and an improved reputation both in and outside your sector.
Furthermore, a Ska Rating certificate helps your business demonstrate that you understand the importance of sustainability and have taken steps towards achieving a high standard of sustainability and wellbeing for your offices. This can be utilised to demonstrate value to your customers, stakeholders and investors in annual reports, inserted into tender documentation, help establish or support your environmental policies and displayed with pride inside your building.
Integration with other environmental standards
Achieving a Ska Rating certification for your fit-out or refurbishment ensures that your project is rated accurately by a recognised governing body, and can be utilised to support environmental management systems such as ISO 14001.
Ska also offers a wide range of other benefits to your business, both during your fit-out project and for the extended lifespan of your building occupancy.
Next week we will be focusing on the other major environmental assessment method for office fit-outs and refurbishments; BREEAM.
To find out more about getting your office Ska rating certified, or to discuss your fit-out or refurbishment project with one of our sustainability consultants; contact our team today.