Whats the value of building certification? – As sustainability and wellness certifications gain momentum, the question often becomes “To certify, or not to certify?”. But this binary approach misses the true intent of these systems. The focus should not be on chasing points, but building upon the strategies outlined in these building standards to create healthier and more environmentally-friendly workplaces.

Certification is not just about the plaque – it’s about the process. Regardless of whether formal certification is pursued, every project can and should borrow ideas and strategies from leading sustainability and wellness frameworks to create a better built environment. By leveraging the extensive research that goes into developing each credit or feature. But also project teams can pursue proven, data-driven strategies that reduce impact on the environment while promoting health and wellbeing for occupants. So how to create healthier and more environmentally-friendly workplaces? Whats the value of building certification?


The LEED and BREEAM are internationally recognized third party certification systems. Before LEED/BREEAM buildings, the industry standard was merely code compliance. As a testament to the widespread influence of these frameworks, some jurisdictions and even countries have adopted green building standards such as LEED/BREEAM to serve as their de facto building code. Irrespective of whether these projects submit for formal certification, building certifications provide a uniform set of design and construction standards which did not previously exist.

The emergence of the WELL Building Standard has been credited with launching what has been called ‘the Second Wave of sustainability,’ which identifies buildings as key influencers on human health. WELL has also engaged key stakeholders who have traditionally been left out of the design and construction process, bringing together the CRE community with human resource professionals to align objectives.

LEED/BREEAM and WELL provided new guiding frameworks, as well as the necessary incentive, to go beyond conventional industry practices, thus setting a standard for higher performance in buildings. Additionally, these building standards provide valuable recognition and differentiation – distinguishing truly green buildings from the rest of the building stock. Regardless of whether projects choose to formally certify, these rating systems have forever altered the nature of the conversation when it comes to best practices in design, construction and operations


The building industry can often fall into a “let’s stick with what works” mentality. Contrary to the static ‘tried and true’ approach, green building rating systems are inherently designed to be flexible and dynamic – adapting to the latest technologies and best practices while continuing to raise the bar through increased technical rigor. The need for continual improvement has brought us LEED/BREEAM updates versions as well as WELL Version 2, while spawning relatively new systems such as Fitwell and Reset. While we can’t predict the future, we can help to make it better. The question that project teams should address isn’t “should we certify?” but “how can we leverage the best practices outlined in sustainability and wellness frameworks to create buildings that minimize resource consumption while enhancing human health and wellbeing?” The beauty of frameworks such as LEED, BREEAM, WELL and Fitwel is that they are designed to benefit all projects, not just those with a plaque on the wall.


The WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research – harnessing the built environment as a vehicle to support human health and wellbeing.


Fitwel is a building certification system that optimizes buildings to support health, by focusing on a scorecard rating of design and operational strategies to address the broad range of health behaviors and risks that impact occupants.


Cushman & Wakefield recently took their commitment to wellness to the next level by becoming a founding alliance member of the Well Living Lab. The lab, a collaboration of Delos and Mayo Clinic, researches the real-world impact of indoor environments on human health and wellbeing. Then it presents practical ways to create healthier indoor spaces. Considering the average person spends approximately 21 hours indoors – with a large chunk of this time spent at the office – this type of research will be instrumental in both the immediate and long-term. The lab’s studies focus on five significant facets of people’s lives: health, performance, stress and resiliency, sleep and comfort. These areas affect people in the workplace. The lab’s staff has expertise in medicine, behavioral, environmental, building and computer sciences, biomedical engineering and technology.

It is clear that “well”-certified buildings will attract tenants faster and maintain capital value for Investors.

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Kris Peetermans MRICS

Partner & Head of Valuation & Advisory Belgium & Luxembourg