Article | Creating Resilience

Going Beyond Green

July 12, 2022


Over the last two decades developers and occupiers have increasingly focused on the sustainability and energy efficiency of buildings, and although this trend continues, the pandemic has placed even more attention on health and wellness in the workplace.

We see certifications awarded to buildings as a way of indicating that they have met a certain standard. In Thailand, many will be familiar with LEED, which is the most widely used system for rating a building’s “green” credentials. Other popular certifications are used in various parts of the world, such as BREEAM, WELL and Energy Star. And while there are similarities between, for example, LEED and BREEAM, their approach is quite different in respect to measuring the quality of design, construction, operation and maintenance of a building. By contrast, WELL is an organization that awards building certificates based entirely on the health, wellness and safety of the people who occupy the building, whereas Energy Star focuses solely on the energy efficiency of a building. Although many office buildings in Bangkok have achieved some form of LEED certification, only two have gained both LEED and WELL certifications, namely The PARQ and O-NES Tower, with AIA East Gateway looking set to join this elite group by the end of 2022.
In Europe, this kind of attention to building design standards is much more common. Back in 2017, for example, 70% of new office buildings in Oslo, Norway were BREEAM-NOR certified, according to the World Green Building Council. As of 2022, roughly 70% of the office buildings in Bangkok are over 20 years old, with most of these buildings running on old technology and MEP systems that score low on energy efficiency. However, 40% of planned office buildings in Bangkok have applied for either LEED or WELL certifications.

A relatively new certification from WiredScore focuses on technology within buildings that enables greater collaboration and innovation through better digital connectivity, smart technology, and cyber security in homes and offices.  

We can see a clear trend that the real estate sector is seeking to gain independent validation of the design, functionality, livability, sustainability, and connectivity of their developments in order to improve the desirability of their products and also assist companies in fulfilling their ESG goals.

More will need to be done to improve the general understanding of the role these certification bodies play in validating developments and renovation projects which purport to meet certain preset standards. The trend toward these certificates has started in the commercial building sector for two main reasons. First, the number of companies acknowledging the risk of climate change has increased significantly, so sustainability has become a major priority. Second, the trend towards tightening regulatory requirements on sustainability will continue. Fewer residential buildings currently apply these sustainability standards, as at this stage it might not be commercially viable for the developers when considering increasing costs against customer demand for these certificates.

Special article written by Ingfah Damrongchaitham, Analyst, Research and Consulting, CBRE Thailand for Bangkok Post.