Environmental standards in office buildings are to be made tougher with the overhaul of two sets of guidance.

BRE Global and the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) are setting up a committee for BREEAM, the environmental rating system for office buildings. It will look at procedures used by green building councils around the world to see what could be incorporated.

Paul King, the chief executive of the UKGBC said: “BREEAM is long established and well respected, but must continue to develop.”

Meanwhile, the British Council for Offices (BCO) may recommend that workplaces adopt lower air-conditioning levels.

This follows calls from industry bodies, including the RIBA, for the BCO to change its Specification – the authoritative industry guide to specifying office buildings – to encourage lower carbon emissions.

The bodies had called on the BCO to set standard office temperature at 24°C rather than 22°C, reducing the need for air-conditioning.

A study by Arup, commissioned by the BCO in preparation for a revision, has backed the move, making it likely that it will be adopted in the summer.

The BCO is calling on the industry to comment on the findings and says it may commission further research to determine best practice.

This is a quick win and will aid the UK in meeting the Kyoto protocol

Ian Selby, BCO

The study found that increasing the recommended temperature in offices by 2°C would mean that a 100,000ft2 building could save six tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Ian Selby, director of research at the BCO, said: “The fact is that this is a quick win and combined with other good practices it will aid the UK in its commitment under the Kyoto protocol to deliver a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.”

The Arup research shows that in the summer months, when temperature outside is increased, an inside temperature of 26°C may occur while systems work to bring it down.

Although it is widely accepted that this higher temperature would hit productivity, the report concludes that occupiers would accept this if a more relaxed dress code were adopted.