News: Mat Lown

The WELL Health-Safety Rating: what do you need to know?

The new WELL Health-Safety Rating helps create healthier and safer buildings for all users. In this post, we explain how owners and occupiers of all building types can use it today.

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The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) has published its new WELL Health-Safety Rating. This certification is recommended by TFT as a tool to prepare workplaces and other facilities for use in a post-COVID-19 environment thanks to its specific and practical guidance, which can help build trust among building users and visitors as we transition to increased building usage and seek to mitigate future risks.

TFT is embedding these principals, published by the IWBI, for our offices and in best practice guides for our clients. Our teams are here to help occupier organisations and building owners understand the certification and provide a higher standard of well-being by applying it.

What is the WELL Health-Safety Rating?

The WELL Health Safety Rating

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidence based and third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types. The rating focuses on operational policies, maintenance protocols, occupant engagement and emergency plans across six themes, including:

  • Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
  • Emergency Preparedness Programs
  • Health Service Resources
  • Air and Water Quality Management
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Communication
  • Innovation

The full set of requirements are now available on wellcertified.com.

Get in touch with our team to find out how those apply to your organisation or building.

Does the WELL Health-Safety Rating deal with COVID-19 risks?

The IWBI is clear that the latest certification doesn’t make an organisation or building COVID-proof. However, it was developed in response to the pandemic and details interventions at a building and organisation scale which help reduce the risk of infectious diseases transmission. Furthermore, the strategies it contains apply to numerous health and safety issues relevant today and in the future.

What types of building can attain the WELL Health-Safety Rating?

The rating applies to any type of building, as well as any type of single-use or single-owner space within a building. Multi-use spaces such as stadiums, airports and shopping malls can also be certified by the same themes, but the application would take a different form due to differing requirements for the various uses of the space.

WELL Health-Safety rating applies to all building types, including office, restaurant, hospitality, education, retail and industrial sectors

Will it help me achieve a full WELL certification for my building?

Yes! While the Health-Safety Rating is a certification in its own right, and achieving it is a significant step for an organisation’s well-being journey, it will also support an application to become fully WELL-certified.

Given that it deals with a very immediate concern for employees and other building users, embarking on this process is timely and a good future-proofing step for your building or organisation.

Do you have other questions about the latest rating from WELL? Get in touch to learn how it could help you progress your organisation’s well-being journey.

NABERS UK: a step closer to net zero carbon

TFT is proud to announce our partnership with NABERS UK, becoming a Design for Performance (DfP) Delivery Partner as part of our wider effort to help clients achieve net zero carbon.

NABERS UK BBP - net zero carbon

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Following in the footsteps of the successful Australian initiative, NABERS UK Scheme (for Offices) has now been launched in the UK through the collaboration of Better Buildings Partnerships (BBP), NABERS and the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Developed in collaboration with a wide range of industry stakeholders, the scheme will enable greater transparency concerning the performance in use of UK Offices. It will play a vital role in bridging the performance gap between the design and in-use performance of UK Offices. BBP have spearheaded this launch in hope to transform the market ahead of Government consultations on energy performance disclosure within the commercial industry.

Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO at Better Buildings Partnership said:

The launch of NABERS UK marks a significant milestone for this project, but more importantly a huge leap forward for the industry in measuring and verifying the actual energy performance of UK offices. This has been a truly collaborative effort from across the industry over many years. I am absolutely delighted that we now have a scheme in the UK that will transform the market for better, more energy efficient offices.

Our goal at TFT is to optimise energy intensity in the course of building use. We do that by measuring and improving actual building performance as opposed to predicted building performance. This will in turn help developers overcome the performance gap between design and operation. In becoming a DfP Delivery Partner, TFT will integrate DfP into the delivery of building services and champion the adoption of DfP to our clients.

To find out more about the TFT approach, click here.

Sustainable value engineering: is it possible?

World Green Building Week

We’ve been thinking about how we can not only identify the goals and strategies for better climate impacts of development, but how we can act to achieve them. In particular, we’ve been examining the role of project managers and quantity surveyors to encourage improvement by design teams in an area that is often missed out on in climate talks: value engineering.

Carbon reduction in buildings has come a long way but we are still behind the curve compared to other industries. Why? Put simply, the willingness to pay for it is still lacking. Quantity surveyors control the purse strings and understand how funds can be spent wisely, but can we factor more sustainable decisions in to the process?


As part of multidisciplinary project teams, members collaborate to achieve a balance of several drivers whilst meeting the client’s brief.

Over the last year, over 1500 organisations comprising architects, engineers, contractors, consultants, and project managers have signed up to the ‘Declare’ movement[i], committing to undertake design and construction with significantly less carbon. This is a leap forward in terms of sustainable development intentions by a large portion of the built environment sector.

However, moving away from bolt on sustainability services towards integrated, holistic and sustainable system design requires a fundamental rethink of the design process. And yet one of the fundamental steps that the sector needs to take is to integrate three key gatekeepers of our build processes: project managers, quantity surveyors and the procurement chain.

“Value engineering is used to solve problems and identify and eliminate unwanted costs, whilst improving function and quality.”


Designing Buildings Wiki

Value engineering for good

In its best possible incarnation, value engineering can get the best out of a design. Some everyday examples of how value engineering can benefit the environment around us include:

  • Using a salvaged/reconditioned raised access floor system instead of installing a brand new one. 
  • Prolonging the life of well-maintained HVAC systems rather than automatically replacing them because the original systems have exceeded CIBSE life expectancy guidelines.
  • Using natural materials to replace more carbon intensive, mass produced materials such as PVC.
  • Designing out components – e.g. avoiding the use of mastic and sealants to waterproof joints.
  • Careful modelling of building performance in use to optimise plant size.

However, at its worst, value engineering could literally cost us the earth. The decisions designers and contractors make now must move us towards Net Zero and it is fundamentally important that those in control of budgets understand the impact of changes to an optimised low carbon design. A tight specification that integrates carbon is essential for good intentions not to be undermined by contractual ‘opportunities’.

Never has a good brief been more important

Clients need to lead in their requirements for moving towards Net Zero. Our respective Declare movements demand that we design and build in the right way. However, if the same goal isn’t shared by our clients, it is quite possible that whilst the value engineering process may satisfy increases in value for cost, programme and quality, the effect on climate and carbon isn’t quantified in the same way. 

So, how do we change our processes to achieve a sustainable built environment?

1. Baking and knitting skills – a Project Manager’s discipline

Firstly, project managers are responsible for a setting the tone and the ambition of the project, not to mention the considerable amount of “knitting” that has to happen between the different disciplines. Knowing that sustainability should be baked in from RIBA Stage 1, and not the last thing on the DTM agenda, or bringing in sustainability consultants purely for a planning submission, changes how sustainability is managed and considered throughout the design phase. Advocating to clients at RIBA Stage 0 for a sustainability process to be included can drastically change the project outcomes and value (Yes, even at RIBA Stage 0 there are issues that sustainability professionals can shed light on such as future proofing and circular economy!)

2. Carbon – a Quantity Surveyor’s dream

Secondly, the best Quantity Surveyors (QS) understand the balance of drivers that a design team works with and how best value is attained. Many of these drivers are qualitative and subjective. Carbon, on the other hand, is mostly quantitative* and is highly suited to being part of the QS domain. They measure what they can measure very well, and not what they can’t. Carbon needs to be another column on the QS cost plan.

*Using PAS 2080, EN 15978, the RICS Methodology and some LCA software

3. Procurement – a direct cost link we can’t ignore

Procurement is where the rubber meets the road in terms of carbon. Whether the years of low carbon design work and planning is seen through to the end of construction will be determined by how closely the procurement chain, which can be highly fragmented, follows the product and performance specification.

Designers and contractors need to bring the PM and QS communities and the procurement chain with us on the multiple sustainability narratives we are working through as a sector including: low carbon, whole life carbon and cost, and circular economy. Sustainability professionals understand how a value engineering tweak can significantly impact on these sustainability outcomes. QS professionals are well placed to understand how the desirable sustainability outcomes can impact on the other traditional client drivers. Striking that balance and finding our new normal is difficult but currently, the balance is still weighted towards cost and business directives.

Including these disciplines and specialists as part of a project’s objectives is critical to making sustainability not just a strategy, but a point of action.


[i] Construction Declares www.constructiondeclares.com covering Architects, Building Services, Civil Engineers, Contractors, Landscape Architects, Project Managers and Structural Engineers Declare pages.

Sustainable buildings: long-term thinking and design for performance

Sustainable buildings are no longer a specialist’s responsibility. Every stakeholder in the building design, construction, management and maintenance processes can contribute to more sustainable outcomes, so long as they work towards a common goal. They key to aligning these different roles is in matching up sustainable best practice with a better commercial outlook for the project.

TFT Sustainability Associate, Oliver Morris, recently joined a RICS conference panel to discuss how this can be achieved, drawing on our experience as part of project teams and client advisers for building investors and occupiers alike.

So how can project teams and clients contribute to more sustainable buildings and the commercial outlook for their next project?

Sustainable buildings are more valuable in the long-term

Developers and investment funds are increasingly following property strategies which prioritise long-term sustainability and occupant well-being. Their confidence is bolstered by an industry which is proving its experience in delivering these outcomes but also providing greater certainty of the costs involved. The good news is that project teams engage more fully with the proper application of sustainable design and construction principles from the outset.

However, major schemes tend to embrace this process more fully than smaller or less high-profile buildings. Budget limitations can mean that projects aim to simply meet regulations, not exceed them. The problem is that regulations are evolving continually: while buildings may still be ‘compliant’ in the future, in a market of newer and higher performing buildings those assest are at risk of becoming under-valued or stranded.

Our solution is to advocate for a beyond-compliance approach at an early stage to avoid the risk of stranded assets down the line.

Would you like more information on any of the subjects discussed in this article? Contact Mat Lown, TFT Partner and Head of Sustainability.

Designing for performance beyond compliance

TFT is a delivery partner for the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) Design for Performance programme. The BBP aims to tackle the performance gap: the difference between how buildings are designed to perform, and how they function after the project is finished and the occupants move in.

Projects which rely on design intent alone to measure building performance, miss out on the most important indicator of success: the experience of the buildings’ users over time.

Designing for performance means gathering data on how the finished building is used by its occupants, and how well its component parts meet their needs. Operational targets can refer to aspects like energy efficiency and occupant satisfaction levels, broken down to whichever metrics are most important to the key stakeholders.

Choosing the right indicators and monitoring their performance is the best way to ensure that an asset is delivering value for its occupants, and therefore sustainable returns for its owners.

Sustainable buildings

If you’d like to know about evaluating the impact of sustainable building decisions, or about climate change adaptation, our follow-up article on this topic is here.

Would you like more information on any of the subjects discussed in this article? Contact Mat Lown, TFT Partner and Head of Sustainability.

TFT contributes to World GBC sustainable renovation report

The World Green Building Council (GBC) recognises the role of renovating building stock to boost economic recovery across Europe following the COVID-19 pandemic and its wider effects. To that end, the World GBC has issued guidance and case studies on leading sustainable building renovation programmes. Published under the EU-funded BUILD UPON2 project, the Starting a Renovation Wave Report (download link) is now available.

The report summarises the World GBC’s recommended approach to sustainable renovations:

  • Starting local with best practice case studies of sustainable building renovations.
  • Use leaders and regulators, including mandatory energy performance requirements to drive building standards such as the UK’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).
  • Systemic impact tracking to enable cities and local authorities to understand the outcomes of their initiatives.
  • Convene diverse stakeholders across the building and construction value chain to solve sustainable renovation barriers together.

In terms of regulation, the UK’s MEES certification is a unique proposition in global real estate, because it imposes a minimum standard for a building to achieve before it is let or sold.

TFT is often brought in to advise investors and building owners on their buildings’ operational energy use, with a view to MEES and its impact on property or portfolio’s commercial prospects. No other country has a requirement as consequential as this in the market and, looking ahead, it’s possible the UK government will go on to introduce higher standards still.

Partner and Head of Sustainability Mat Lown contributed to the report’s deep dive on MEES in the UK, explaining how our clients are responding to the regulations and expect it to tighten in the near future.

“Of the several thousand properties and transactions that we’ve been involved in, we’ve only lodged two exemptions, which is because either we were able to improve the rating by accurately modelling the property and/or by our clients carrying out cost-effective improvements to secure a compliant rating. However, with the continue to let provisions kicking in for non-domestic property in 2023 and if the minimum standard tightens to a B in 2030, then I expect it will become more challenging to meet the standard and therefore, expect there to be an increase in the number of exemptions.

The future trajectory of MEES is very much on our clients’ radar with the acceptance that the minimum standard is likely to move to a B within the next 10 years.”

Mat Lown, TFT Partner and Head of Sustainability

How can WELL v2 inform your wellbeing strategy?

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) the body responsible for the WELL™ Building Standard (WELL™), has released interim guidance to prepare buildings, communities and organisations to support health and wellbeing in the workplace, in the midst of COVID-19. The advice is useful for organisations and building owners preparing to receive greater numbers back to workplaces following the latest official advice.

Though it draws on the existing WELL™ version 2, this guidance does not provide a new badge or certification. It is still very useful for understanding the most relevant WELL™ version 2 requirements in prevention and preparedness, resilience and recovery from the current pandemic. The guidelines touch on different aspects of the built environment including cleanliness, air and water quality, organisational resilience, mental health and comfort.

Following the interim guidance is the August launch of IWBI’s full Guidelines for Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery and the graduated WELL™ v2 Standard.

In June IWBI will also launch the WELL™ Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management, which applies to a range of other facility types and market sectors including: offices, hotels, retail, grocery stores, warehouses, manufacturing, theatres, recreation, restaurants and schools.

Our team at TFT include WELL™ Accredited Professional and we are part of the recently instituted IWBI Task Force on COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Infections. We draw upon our wellbeing expertise to help organisations occupying buildings, and building owners themselves, to understand which WELL™ strategies are most appropriate for their buildings and users to maximise opportunities to enhance wellbeing.

Get in touch to find out how we can support you and your company on your workplace wellbeing journey, at: tftsustainability@tftconsultants.com and stay tuned for more news over the summer months.

You can read the interim guidance document here.

How can construction projects achieve circular economy ambitions?

TFT has supported UKGBC's circular economy guidance since it launched in 2018

One of the greatest opportunities about the circular economy is also its greatest challenge: success will deliver, and relies on, systemic change. In the context of sustainable construction that means investors, contractors, consultants and construction supply chains must work together and follow the same strategies to do things differently.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) highlighted that, of 50,000 buildings demolished every year, much of the 90% of waste which is recovered is then recycled into less valuable products or materials, as opposed to being reused. This leaves a huge environmental and financial opportunity for our industry to resolve.

The circular economy brings clear benefits to construction, including:

  • Reduced embodied carbon
  • Reduced landfill costs
  • Help to secure planning permission more easily
  • Reduced depletion of natural resources

TFT has supported UKGBC Circular Economy guidance from its conception in 2018. We do so because we believe it is becoming the most important tool for our industry to act on replacing material waste and carbon emissions with circular principles through our day-to-day work.

The latest stage of its guidance focusses on three changes of mindset and practice. Together, they will drive us closer to a circular process which results in a better environmental impact and lower project costs too.

1. Use the circular economy to inform building design (not the other way around)

Some investors and developers – those initiating the build or works in question – are more aware of circular economy principles than others, but invariably the steps they take to achieve them must come sooner.

Material inventories and assessment tends to be part of the design process, which results in a diminished scope for designing a building for circularity, so the advantages of the process are already proportionally reduced. These steps need to begin as early as RIBA Stage 0-1.

Our circular economy consultancy typically kicks in before this stage. At this point, we can advise on setting ambitions for the work then organising and communicating the process so that design teams can understand what existing materials we are working with, and coming up with the best design to suit their re-use.

2. Procure products as a service (PaaS) to improve installation, maintenance and replacement

As well as reuse, the UKGBC has released guidance on embracing products as a service (PaaS). The principle is to create a feedback loop which engages suppliers of building products such as lighting fixtures, steel tubing or flooring on a contract basis. This way, products are installed, maintained and decommissioned for refurbishment by the supplier, as opposed to being bought, used and discarded or recycled by different parties through the building or product lifecycle.

UKGBC describes lighting as a service (LaaS) to illustrate and encourage the demand for servicing over purchasing. The model results in greater efficiencies, longer product lifetime and specialist refurbishment and reuse or, as a last resort, recycling.

This How-to Guide takes project teams which are working on projects that are replacing lighting, through the process and project teams’ roles and responsibilities for applying LaaS. This guide provides an understanding of what information is required, who to involve and at which point in the programme.

A huge advantage we see for this approach is in re-evaluating the way maintenance contracts are procured. A closed loop approach owned by the manufacturer lends itself to better-performing fittings and a fully accountable maintenance regime by the product experts.

Furthermore PaaS can help support dilapidations-free leases and more flexible models of tenancy. If components are created and installed with ease of removal, dismantling and re-use in mind, that could be one less hurdle for tenants and landlords to negotiate at the end of a lease.  

Illustrating how the circular economy applies to product procurement, maintenance and replacement. From the UKGBC Circular Economy How-to Guide

3. Share circular economy responsibility across the whole design and construction team

Though the impetus will come from the client at the outset of a project, responsibility for meeting a circular ambition rests with the client’s entire delivery team. Over the course of the works, everyone from procurement, project management, main contractor, demolition contractor, design team, facilities management and inventory auditor will play a vital role and have responsibilities in progressing circular outcomes.

In our Development and Project Consultancy roles, TFT helps to orient project teams toward greater material reuse and waste reduction, using resources such as the UKGBC guidance. Doing so effectively means early involvement, as we suggest in point 1!

Further reading: UKGBC innovation insights

You can find out more about the UKGBC’s Circular Economy work, including the above points, here. In our support of the programme we have also been involved with two further pieces of guidance relating to how apply circular principles to construction works.

You can find out about those, here and here.

Hattrick of shortlists for TFT in 2018

This year, we have been named finalist for the Property Awards, the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards and the EG Awards. They come about following our dedicated effort to deliver better buildings, and happier, healthy occupants, creating the BPF Aftercare Guide and providing leading energy and sustainability advice to some of the biggest commercial property investors, respectively. TFT has been acknowledged as a candidate for providing the UK’s leading sustainability advisor. We believe this is a result of us hiring the best people; working on the biggest projects for blue chip clients and delivering market leading thought leadership.

With the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards right around the corner and the EG Awards in September, we look forward to meeting up with our fellow nominees and hearing about success stories from all corners of the commercial property market.

The BusinessGreen Leaders Awards takes place Wednesday 27th June at The Brewery London. To find out more, click here. The EG Awards takes place 19 September at Grosvenor House Hotel. To find out more, click here.

Energy and Sustainability team grows at TFT

TFT, independent property and construction consultancy, has made a further strategic appointment in its industry-leading energy and sustainability team.

Chang Zhang Chin, formerly of ChapmanBDSP, joins TFT as an Energy and Sustainability Consultant in the London office.

He is already assisting an institutional investor with a large office refurbishment in south west London where his role is to ensure sustainability targets are secured during the redesign and following developed and technical design phases.

Mat Lown, Partner and Head of Sustainability, TFT, said:

More and more of the most high-profile and well-respected names in UK commercial real estate are turning to TFT for advice and support about energy and sustainability. Chang’s arrival helps TFT to meet an increasing demand for passive energy advice, particularly for the thriving build to rent sector. His expertise in air quality is welcome, too, and adds to TFT’s wellbeing expertise.

Moving beyond the theory of energy performance

Many major property investors are taking a lead in implementing measures that go beyond compliance. However, barriers remain. The front cover of December/January issue of RICS Building Survey Journal points to an article all about MEES by TFT Partner, Mat Lown.

Read the full article here.