Green certifications for buildings should be provided on rolling basis to ensure built structures meet the same standards as new builds, an environmental design and sustainability expert has argued.

“The real challenge with certification is that it often only deals with new buildings,” said Ed Garrod, principal at London-based Elementa Consulting, a member of Integral Group that specialises in green engineering.

“Also, those certifications don’t expire, so the requirement then to renew that certification – and keep showing that your building is operating in [an environmentally conscious way] – is critical”, he added, speaking on a panel discussing net-zero buildings Emirates Green Building Council’s seventh Annual Congress in Dubai on 9 October.

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“Green certification needs be a rolling programme and it needs to tackle existing buildings as a priority rather than new buildings. It’s a lot easier for new buildings to achieve the efficiencies that we’re looking for and a lot harder for existing buildings to make them happen.”

Joined on stage by Emirates Green Building Council chairperson, Saeed Al Abbar, Garrod also touched on the universal green Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED denotes that a project complies with its prescribed requirements that are designed to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage a market transformation towards sustainable design.

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“We all know buildings that had LEED Gold certification before version 1 or 2 when it was really easy,” Garrod added. “They’re not green anymore, but they’re still telling the world they are doing fantastic work – and a lot of them didn’t even have to meet minimum energy requirements to get that label.”