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Ska rating is best option for fit out, says industry expert

Building services companies should implement a new type of assessment tool to take advantage of the growing market in sustainable office fitout, according to a senior consultant from Aecom speaking at a conference last week.

“Making sure you fit out your office in a sustainable manner is one way of meeting your corporate social responsibility targets,” said Emma Hickling, senior ­consultant in sustainability with Aecom.

Speaking at the 2010 RICS Building Engineering Services conference last Wednesday, Hickling stressed that there is an increasing focus on the reducing the carbon footprint of existing buildings.

Aecom was part of the team that developed the Ska environmental assessment tool for RICS at the end of last year. Unlike the BREEAM and LEED environmental assessment methods, the Ska Rating tool means the project is evaluated solely on what a developer has done in the fit-out, rather than what is included in the base building.

“BREEAM is a very good assessment tool but its focus is on the base build,” said Hickling. “With Ska, the focus is on the fit-out. This is very important when you consider that a building may have up to 40 fit-outs during its lifetime.”

The assessment process currently has two stages, design and handover.

The rating is based on 99 fit-out measures, including ­energy efficient lighting, HVAC zone control and lower-flush WCs. Each measure rewards a design that meets best practice in terms of selecting the most sustainable option for that element.

Between 30 and 60 measures are likely to apply to most projects, and the rating only scores those relevant to the particular project.

Gold, silver or bronze ratings are attained by achieving 75 per cent, 50 per cent or 25 per cent of the potential measures, subject to a minimum of 20 measures being met.