News Article advisory certification green interview rating Realiscon
by Property Forum | Interview

Investors, developers, construction companies, banks and end-users are the main stakeholders in the property value chain. To get the perfect result, you have to involve one more expert, a sustainability manager who will have a special role: represent the Environment, says Dávid Jakab, Managing Partner of advisory firm Realiscon. He and Enikő Kluha, BREEAM Assessor, Advisory Professional at Realiscon talked to Property Forum to provide detailed insight into certification systems.

Real estate companies are proud to announce their achievement of a green certificate for their building. But is their purpose exactly? What are green ratings good for?

Dávid Jakab: There are several reasons why green ratings are beneficial. They provide a more sustainable environment and a healthier work environment that improves the well-being of the users. Buildings, where green rating conditions are applied, protect natural resources. For instance; we had a design and execution management project for a logistics building, which was developed for the use of the owner. Obtaining the assessment and the certification document itself was not interesting at all, but the developer wanted the criteria to prevail. A great outcome we realized.

From an investor’s perspective, the ratings make the properties more appealing. For tenants, it helps to reduce operational costs. In summary, it is good for the investor because it is good for all the stakeholders, including the environment.

How do you see the demand for green ratings? Which is the most welcomed among end users?

Dávid Jakab: We see an increased demand for green ratings generated mainly where the asset is used by tenants such as logistics and office. It doesn’t matter whether it is a newly built property or an existing one, the building must be certified.

If a property is produced for the builder's use, the certificate itself may not be necessary, but keeping the criteria in mind is useful. Other than that, new construction and in-use assessments are equally popular.

In the case of residential buildings, the design and execution are mainly driven by energy consumption and legal requirements and green ratings are not playing, at least not in Hungary. It probably could, if the structure of ownership was different. That would require a shift towards rental housing.

In some cases, green ratings are used for greenwashing. Why do you think this may hurt their reputation?

Dávid Jakab: Fortunately, today, most investors have realized the real importance of green considerations, it is not about the plaque anymore. Many know why it is important to involve a sustainability consultant at the very beginning of the design process. From that point it is not about greenwashing, we can add real value.

When there is no real interest on the developer’s side, it becomes contra-productive. Those ‘muddy’ assets just don’t bring the expected performance. Considering the whole lifecycle, the overall cost increase. I am happy to see more and more real value.

How have the conditions to get green ratings changed over the last period? Can you elaborate on the current rules?

Enikő Kluha: BRE launched a new technical manual for newly built developments at the beginning of 2022. This update prioritizes changes to the Energy category. It includes updated energy benchmarks, encourages operational energy modelling in touching the performance gap and also aligns the energy outputs with EU taxonomy criteria.

What is the difference between "In-Use" and "newly built" ratings?

Enikő Kluha: ‘In-Use’ provides a framework for buildings which are already in operation. The process of the assessment is different from other BREEAM schemes. Certification is valid for 3 years, then it needs to be renewed.

Whilst the ‘New Construction’ assessment covers the process and the results of new buildings’ design and construction. New construction assessments are carried out by qualified BREEAM assessors. This is a one-time certification which does not guarantee that the building will keep and maintain the inbuilt sustainable features, it is valid on the date of issuance.

Can you describe the process of obtaining a green rating in case of a new development?

Enikő Kluha: In most cases, a pre-assessment is carried out even before the design starts to determine the targeted and achievable credits. This already sets out the requirements for the designers. In many cases, third-party experts also need to be involved to prepare special studies and reports in the different stages. An interim design stage assessment can be conducted to obtain feedback on the project’s performance. There are some criteria which specifically need to be fulfilled during the construction. After the handover, a post-construction stage assessment is carried out, and evidence documents are submitted to BRE.

In some cases, the process of getting green ratings and project management is harmonized. What are the advantages of this and what can a BREEAM advisory professional add to support this cooperation?

Enikő Kluha: BREEAM advisory professional acts as a sustainability project manager, supporting the designing process, consulting with the project stakeholders and monitoring the delivery of targeted credits. He or she can also be involved in the construction phase where his or her role is very similar and facilitates cross-project consideration and collaboration while monitoring performance. Involving such professionals the project can also achieve extra credits.

We believe the future cannot be defined without green/clean considerations. The criteria system of the sustainability PM should be an integral part of Project Management. It is easier when your co-worker sits next to you.

Why do you prefer professional project management and advisory knowledge to be kept on one hand?

Dávid Jakab: Project knowledge available day by day can make sustainability consultation more fluid, make it easier to monitor requirements, and provide an opportunity for intervention in time. And vice versa. Your questions are answered immediately.

How big is this special advisory team at Realiscon and what are your latest successful projects?

Dávid Jakab: The Realiscon Green Team is constantly growing in both numbers and skills. The current team of five people includes BREEAM assessors, advisory professionals, LEED AP and LEED GA. We have recently had some great projects and are currently working on exciting ones: logistics (e.g. Hello Parks Páty), hotels (e.g. Hilton Garden Inn Debrecen), offices (e.g. Bartók Udvar), commercial centres (e.g. OBI Kiskunhalas) building certification are all in our portfolio.