Published on: 13 February 2024

Updated on: 13 February 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

Julie Hattersley

Design Director

Jo Jenkinson

Design Director

Companies are increasingly seeking third-party sustainability credentials for their buildings. But with a variety of building certification standards now available internationally, how do you determine which is the right fit?

This comprehensive guide examines the leading validation systems - SKA rating, BREEAM certification, LEED certification, Fitwel and WELL certification - enabling you to strategically evaluate the ideal approach based on priorities, project parameters and location.

Building certifications benchmark performance tailored to environmental efficiency, conservation and human health promotion. Credible ratings signal an organisation’s meaningful commitments to corporate sustainability and employee experience.

While assessment criteria overlaps across schemes, important nuances differentiate positioning around factors like geographic relevance, evaluation rigour, scope and intended outcomes. This article explains the key certification options in detail, followed by comparative insights to inform effective planning.

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SKA rating

SKA ratings focuses exclusively on sustainability within commercial office fit outs across the UK. Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers benchmark energy, water use, materials, waste and wellbeing criteria streamlined for interiors.

BREEAM certification

BREEAM assesses whole lifecycle building sustainability. Originating from UK best practices, BREEAM’s global Pass to Outstanding ratings evaluate scientific performance across energy, materials, waste, pollution, health, management processes and more.

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With a diverse range of certifications now available, determining the ideal fit requires balancing priorities around sustainability leadership versus more specialised health and wellbeing uplift. Our guidance helps clients select the optimal validations to demonstrate comprehensive environmental and workplace experience commitments.

Julie Hattersley

Design Director

LEED certification

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a flexible assessment tailored to different project types internationally. With four tiers from Certified to Platinum, LEED appraises factors including energy efficiency, water conservation, transit access and indoor environmental quality alignment.

Fitwel certification

Fitwel is people-centric, optimising spaces to elevate occupant health. Using 1-3 star ratings, it assesses policies, programs and office interior design interventions supporting better nutrition, activity, emotional health, emergency resilience and more.

WELL certification

WELL focuses exclusively on utilising rigorous medical research to advance human health via workplaces. With Silver to Platinum levels, WELL measures over 100 optimisation across ten concepts from air to nourishment.

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Our tailored certification guidance considers priorities from carbon reduction to wellness promotion, project scope, and location relevance to recommend the ideal certification. This strategic approach delivers efficient and maximised recognition of your organisation's multifaceted sustainability efforts and impacts.

Jo Jenkinson

Design Director

SKA vs BREEAM vs LEED vs Fitwel vs WELL compared

While SKA, BREEAM and LEED focus more on environmental sustainability, Fitwel and WELL pioneer specialised health-centric workplace certifications valued for their focus.

The ideal selection depends on balancing your organisation’s strategic priorities with certification investment criteria of relevance, application scope and stringency. Many pursue dual accreditations across both sustainability as well as occupant wellbeing metrics to demonstrate comprehensive performance.


With multiple benefits from reputation to recruitment, sustainability certifications deliver tangible returns beyond signalling conscience leadership. As climate change accelerates, credible building ratings will only increase in decision-making influence for tenants and landlords alike.

Office Principles delivers specialised office fit out services embracing the most progressive standards. Reach out today to evaluate certification options suitable for your next office refurbishment or office relocation project.

Meet the Authors

Julie Hattersley

Design Director

Having worked in the Design and Build industry for almost two decades, Julie has built an illustrious portfolio that reflects talent, creativity and an effortless ability to create inspiring workplaces. Taking pride in her involvement through every step of the design process, Julie is inspired by her clients and relishes dissecting a brief to get to the essence of what will provide the end users with the best experience and improve their working days.

Jo Jenkinson

Design Director

With a passion for creating exciting and innovative designs, Jo’s is the imagination behind a rich and varied portfolio of inspirational environments, spanning commercial, retail and residential markets. Experienced in architectural design and design and build, she has worked in the office fit out industry for over ten years and has led the design on a number of multi-million pound projects.

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