An assessment of the problems with green building rating systems following last week’s feature article


I read with interest your article on green ratings, and whether they are helping or becoming a problem in the quest to improve the sustainability of new buildings (Overrated, 17 April 2013, page 30). I feel the real problem with regulations such as BREEAM, LEED and the Code for Sustainable Homes, is that they are never specific to a project.

This means that meeting their requirements becomes prescriptive, often simply focusing on the capital cost rather than finding creative solutions relating to the specific location, usage or intended occupiers of a building. This results in designs that are non-user-friendly, overly complicated, and expensive to run and maintain.

Despite regulations being necessary to increase awareness of sustainability they do not always encourage designers to look at bespoke solutions and with budgets and fees being squeezed a tick box mindset seems to have set in. Rather than more regulations, what we need is a more holistic approach to the building’s life.

Rob Russell, partner (member) and head of sustainability, John Rowan and Partners