Spectrum Guides: Get acquainted with Green Building Certifications

Improving air quality has become a prioritised topic. Within the construction and building industries, more buildings are being designed with sustainability as a priority, creating healthier buildings for us to work, live and spend time within. Certifications are becoming more desirable within new and redeveloping projects, many of which, involve ensuring buildings are designed and created sustainably.

One of the main considerations within these certifications is improving indoor air quality and using materials which don’t impact the air quality within the building. Often within buildings, materials such as paints, varnishes and new carpets produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – harmful emissions that can impact health – into the environment. Certified buildings often will avoid using materials which produce VOCs to ensure air quality isn’t affected. Indoor air quality monitors can identify VOCs in the indoor environment and provide data to be acted upon to improve air quality.

These certifications are used predominantly to provide assurance for people living and working within them, acknowledging health implications caused by poor air quality and improving indoor spaces, creating cleaner and safer spaces whilst prioritising improving air quality within our buildings.

We have put together a short insight into 4 certifications used by sustainable projects – BREEAM, Fitwel, WELL and LEED.


BREEAM is a leading certification project that focuses on creating sustainable buildings, described as “the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure and buildings.”

The BREEAM certification is assessed through third party certification of an asset’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability performance.

BREEAM rated developments are more sustainable environments, they enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources and make for more attractive property investments. Therefore, for many new buildings to achieve BREEAM rating is very attractive, as it highlights the priorities for sustainability and improving indoor air quality for the occupants, employees, and visitors within them.

Part of the BREEAM certification is formed by an Indoor Air Quality Plan which aims to “recognise and encourage healthy internal environments through installation of ventilation, equipment, and finishes.”

The BREEAM assessment for indoor air quality consists of minimising sources of air pollution and potential for natural ventilation. This assessment criteria consist of attainable credits including an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) plan credit and a ventilation credit.

Part of the assessment for BREEAM indoor air quality also requires that areas of the building which are subject to large and unpredictable occupancy patterns have CO2 or air quality sensors specified and in mechanically ventilated spaces, these must be linked to the ventilation system and provide demand control ventilation to the space.  With newer technologies for sensors, it is becoming increasingly accessible to integrate air quality sensors and monitoring into HVAC systems to allow for more information to be collected on key pollutants in the air, such as, VOCs and CO2 levels.  


Fitwel are described as “the World’s Leading Certification System committed to Building Health for All”.
Fitwel works towards creating a healthier future for buildings and communities to enhance and strengthen health and wellbeing, of which is generated by academic research studies.

By having Fitwel Certification, projects can provide assurance to employees, residents, and investors that wellness and sustainability within the building has been prioritised. These buildings improve the health of all who visit, live and work within them, in addition to the surrounding community.

More buildings and projects are moving towards being certified, currently, Fitwell have more than 830 projects certified or awaiting certification, are active in over 40 countries and have improved quality of life for 1.3 million people.

The Fitwel Standard is assessed using scorecards which contribute to points which make the Fitwel Star Rating of the project, these are tailored for both existing and new buildings and sites meaning they are appropriate for assessing and recognising the unique opportunities of every project.

Fitwel have an indoor air quality standard which requires buildings to manage and maintain pollutants, dilute, and remove pollutants through ventilation and use filtration to clean the air. The standard also requires that projects must include a plan for managing indoor air quality during and after construction and major renovations and prior to occupancy.


LEED is a certification focused on creating healthier and more sustainable buildings. LEED certification helps to ensure projects and buildings are designed and created to maximise sustainability and create better quality of life for those who used them. LEED has become the most widely used green building programme in the world.

Providing a better, more sustainable life for the people who live, work, and visit those buildings and communities. LEED provides framework for healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.

With sustainability being a more focused topic amongst society, LEED is an attractive certification, providing competitive advantage and potential improved financial performance.

A LEED certification is globally recognised as sustainability achievement and leadership.
LEED buildings are known for having the following attributes:

  • Using less energy and water
  • Avoiding waste
  • Saving on maintenance costs
  • Improving indoor air quality
  • Creating a better environment for the community

LEED has a range of rating systems, to suit different building and project types, this ensures that each rating is accurate to each unique project to achieve the best quality for the building. The rating systems include but are not limited to: Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Neighbourhood Development and Cities and Communities.

LEED promote certified buildings can have many health benefits, including happier employees and occupants and creating clean air that is free from harmful chemicals, improves absenteeism and work hours affected by asthma, depression, and stress.

In addition to the indoor air benefits, LEED Standard Buildings also boast contributing to 50% fewer Greenhouse gases than conventionally constructed buildings.

WELL Building standard:

WELL Building Standard aims to improve health in the built environment addressing behaviour, operations, and design.

WELL consists of a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment which impact our health and well-being. This includes through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

With a focus on air quality, one of the main concepts of WELL Building Standard is air. This prioritises optimising and achieving indoor air quality through the removal of airborne contaminants, prevention, and purification. The WELL Building Certification requires the buildings to promote clean air and minimise indoor air pollution.

The main features of WELL address the wellbeing and improvement of health, comfort, and knowledge of occupants. By prioritising air quality, WELL Building Standards can provide occupants and employees with assurance that sustainability is a priority within the development of the building.

Within the Air element of the WELL Building Standard, a main consideration is the reduction of VOCs, often this can be achieved with the addition of air quality monitors, which can monitor and identify VOCs in the surrounding environment.

The standard also includes a focus on Air Quality Monitoring and Feedback. This involves buildings being required to monitor ozone, particulate count, and carbon dioxide, provide a written policy specifying enforcement strategies for monitoring, records to be kept for a minimum of 3 years and a plan for action should the monitored air be in unacceptable conditions. Real time displays of temperature and humidity must also be displayed.

why they’re important:

Undeniably, poor air quality is proven to be detrimental to health and cause health implications for many, this can include worsening asthma symptoms or heart disease for some. The effects of poor indoor air quality can also include headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. A main contributor behind creating and maintaining certified buildings is to improve public health. Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK.

There are many harmful particulates in the air we breathe, the most encountered indoor air pollutants are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are harmful and often come from cleaning and personal care products as well as household products such as paints, carpets, and air fresheners. 

Systems to monitor the air we breathe can help to identify harmful pollutants around us and provide data to act on. Airgloss ProSense is a key example of how technologies can monitor the air and identify the pollutants. This involves smart technologies and Wi-Fi connectivity, making the monitor as accessible as possible to work efficiently within new or improving green buildings.

Systems to monitor the air we breathe can help to identify harmful pollutants around us and provide data to act on. Airgloss ProSense is a key example of how technologies can monitor the air and identify the pollutants. This involves smart technologies and Wi-Fi connectivity, making the monitor as accessible as possible to work efficiently within new or improving green buildings.

Airgloss prosense Air Quality Monitor

Airgloss ProSense Air Quality Monitor

The introduction of government guidelines to meet new energy efficiency standards to lower energy consumption and bills to protect the environment, is also a key factor in more companies and buildings introducing BREEAM, LEED, WELL and Fitwel into their development plans, tougher requirements to create green buildings makes the certifications much more appealing to developers. The government has also announced a consultation on higher performance targets for non-domestic buildings which will mean they will be zero carbon ready by 2025.

In addition, the certifications provide opportunity to show they are prioritising sustainability in new and existing buildings and sites.
The government is committed to reaching net-zero and is taking considerable action to address the emissions from buildings – a contributor to why many new building and existing building schemes are acknowledging and adapting to provide more sustainable buildings.

Over recent years, there is greater understanding of just how harmful poor indoor and outdoor air quality can be, and the health effects of what we breathe in is having on us, introducing indoor air monitors or air purifiers can be a contributing factor to identifying and reducing these risks by providing clean air in our buildings and homes, making the spaces more enjoyable to be within and improving quality of life.

Integration of Air Quality Sensor & HVAC Systems:

The opportunity to introduce air quality monitors and sensors into our workplaces and buildings is becoming increasingly accessible. Integration of air quality sensors and monitors within HVAC systems has many benefits, including, saving energy, saving money and environmental benefits. This makes integrating sensors and HVAC systems ideal in certified buildings to contribute to maximum sustainability.

Having sensors and HVAC integration can also be beneficial as the data collected can be provided directly to the HVAC systems to turn it on or off autonomously – additionally, data can be sent and stored in the cloud via the app or web platform.

Using the Airgloss ProSense in cohesion with HVAC systems, can be a great opportunity for users and occupants within these buildings to understand air quality and use the data to respond to the trends to improve air quality if necessary.

Integration of sensors and HVAC systems in certified buildings can contribute to improving energy efficiency, creating more sustainable buildings, whilst acting as a cost-efficient solution to creating healthier buildings and spaces for us to work and live within.


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Email: sales@airspectrum.com