Supporting Green Buildings for a Smarter World
SGS promotes the development of green buildings in emerging and developed countries through its strategic involvement in two innovative certification programs: Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) and the Swiss Sustainable Building Standard (Standard Nachhaltiges Bauen Schweiz – SNBS).
Globally, buildings today generate around 28 percent of energy related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consume 40 percent of electricity. The built environment is expected to double by 2050 due to high population growth and trends toward urbanization.
Green buildings, which consume fewer resources, are crucial for mitigating the impact of rapid climate change. They can also significantly benefit building owners and occupiers through resource efficiency and reduced utility costs. This is especially important in emerging markets, where utility bills can consume up to 20 percent of a moderate income family’s disposable income and resources such as clean energy and water are scarce.
We believe that a sustainable built environment is achievable. The urbanization of emerging markets presents a narrow window of opportunity for stimulating the market transformation of the building sector. Through programs such as EDGE and SNBS, we aim to create a sustainable future in which:
- All citizens can participate equally and enjoy services that contribute to healthy and fulfilling lifestyles
- An ecologically aware, resource-efficient and adaptable society ensures that ecosystems are protected
EDGE, an innovation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), supports a holistic strategy for creating competitive, sustainable, inclusive and resilient markets. EDGE was developed to steer construction in rapidly urbanizing economies onto a low carbon path. It provides a measurable way to prove the financial case for sustainable construction. A free-of-charge software platform helps developers to determine the most cost effective options for designing resource efficient new, existing and retrofit buildings within a local context.
Projects certified to the EDGE standard must achieve a minimum 20 percent less energy use, 20 percent less water use, and 20 percent less embodied energy in materials compared with a base case building. EDGE allows for the certification of existing buildings, new buildings and building portfolios, providing a pathway to zero carbon and helping affiliates to achieve our 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 2015, SGS has been a strategic global partner to the IFC, in collaboration with thinkstep, a software, data and consulting services company. SGS-thinkstep provides a one-stop solution for end clients, with SGS performing independent project audits and thinkstep acting as certifier. SGS-thinkstep is the exclusive provider of EDGE certifications in Ghana and Nigeria. Recent projects include a mother and baby unit in Kumasi, Ghana, which has become the first certified green hospital in Africa. We also have an arrangement with EchoStone, a construction company that plans to build 100,000 EDGE-certified homes across Nigeria over the next five years. This will help address the country’s shortage of 17 million housing units.
In developed countries, the integration of sustainability principles into the design and planning of new and retrofit buildings remains a priority. Rapid urbanization in recent decades has created a built environment that is ill equipped to respond to today’s need for resource efficient buildings that can support greater productivity while lowering costs, reducing environmental impacts and being capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions. This situation is exacerbated by the increased demand for heating and cooling that has resulted from climate change, and the reduced availability of materials necessary for construction, such as oil, electricity, water and raw materials.
SNBS (Standard Nachhaltiges Bauen Schweiz) is a world-class standard in sustainable construction. Developed by SGS in association with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), SNBS is recognized as the most comprehensive sustainable building label globally for new and renovated buildings. It does not just cover the common environmental topics such as direct energy consumption, renewable energy and CO2 emissions, but also indirect ones like mobility, site quality, access to public traffic, urban density and utilization. Furthermore, it places a strong focus on well-being, health and the diversity of the residents, architecture and urban quality, costs and profit over the whole life cycle, biodiversity etc. To summarize: it includes all aspects which contribute to the long-term value of a building.
SGS has been mandated by SFOE to develop SNBS and acts now as the exclusive certification body for SNBS.
Launched in August 2016, SNBS is becoming more and more well-established in Switzerland. Important investors have committed to it – not just Swiss, but also international ones. One of the most well known buildings is the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland.
The fact that SNBS is acknowledged by GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark), the common sustainable building benchmark, gives this Swiss standard international acceptance.
The next step is to launch a tool to evaluate the value of the building portfolio based on the SNBS mindset. The final objective is to establish a benchmark, called the “Swiss Sustainable Real Estate Index (SSREI)” – not in competition with GRESB which focuses on the management system and the portfolio performance based on a comprehensive monitoring, but as a complementary standard focussing on the quality of the buildings.
We are proud of our role in providing easy-to-use tools that offer added value for the construction, planning and real estate industries as they transition toward a low carbon and sustainable built environment.