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How Can You Tell if a Building Is Certified? Check Its Toilets

Article July 2, 2019  |  Text by Markéta Miková Text by Markéta Miková

Buildings can be “green” even with a white, gray, or glass facade. Have you heard about building certification? We’ll bet you have. But do you know what it means, and how you can tell if a building Is certified?

It’s relatively new. For a bit under a decade now, modern Czech industrial, office, and retail buildings have been able to acquire environmental certifications, which assess their impact on the environment (these can roughly be compared to energy-rating labels for homes).

There are several kinds of certificates: The most common here are the international (LEED and BREEAM) or Czech (SB Tool) variants of green certificates. It seems, though, that you’ll also be hearing more and more often about WELL certification, which assesses a building’s environmental quality in relation to its users. This spring, the Visionary office building in Prague (see photo below) became the first Czech WELL-certified building.

Certification is a long and complex process, at the end of which a building acquires a point score, presented via a Silver, Gold, or Platinum “diploma.”

If a developer decides for certification, they have to keep that in mind right from the first architectural studies, because some elements are very hard to make up during construction. For example, the use of daylight is one factor that’s assessed. It’s much easier to rotate a structure’s 3D model on a computer than a real iron-and-concrete structure on a property…

Are you working in a certified building? How can you tell?

Rainwater flushing.

You go to the toilet and the water is a bit yellowed. “Somebody must have forgot to flush,” you think with a sigh. You reach for the flusher, and a sign above it informs you that this is a “green building” in which rainwater or “graywater” is used for flushing.

Photo by Markéta Miková

Not too hot, not too cold.

We each have our own thermoregulation; some of us are always hot, while others are always cold. The air in enclosed rooms goes stale fast, and it also tends to be dry, so at best it constantly makes you want to sleep. At worst, you’ll catch something at your job because of it.

Office projects today have advanced automated systems for heating, cooling, and air conditioning, and in certified buildings, these systems also take a building’s north/south orientation and its outdoor shading into account to keep it from overheating.  

Lower energy and water bills.

You won’t notice this aspect as an ordinary employee (unless it ends up as more money in your bonus). If your company is in a certified building, they’ll be paying less for electricity and water—efficiency is a major topic for environmental certifications. The expectation here is that you’ll install LED lighting, water-saving plumbing, and geothermal pumps.    

The rooftop at Visionary building is not just for relax, you can run a marathon there too. Photo by Lukáš Rozmajzl

Relaxation on rooftops and in atriums. 

You can earn more WELL points by making sure that the building’s surroundings have room for its future occupants and neighbors to sit and relax. Besides just benches, this means the overall concept for the building’s internal and external space and pleasant, well-maintained greenery. Rain-watered, of course! Recently we’re also seeing a lot of rooftop relaxation terraces as well. (We’ll be writing more about those in #MORETHANOFFICE later this summer.)

#MORETHANCARS

The closer an office building is to a public transport stop (and in Prague, ideally a metro stop), the better. Employees don’t have to burn gas to get to work; they can use public transport, bikes, or electric cars. They’ll be helping both the environment and their health. Certified buildings often provide bike stands and showers for cyclists, and some buildings also offer charging stations for electric cars.

via GIPHY

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