Blog

Published on: 23 January 2024

Updated on: 19 February 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

Jo Jenkinson

Design Director

As awareness grows around sustainability and climate impact, companies are looking for ways to improve the environmental performance of their office spaces.

One valuable tool for benchmarking and certifying greener office fit out projects in the UK is the SKA rating.

But what exactly does SKA stand for and how does it work? This article provides a comprehensive guide to SKA ratings – from the assessment process to tips on achieving higher certification.

What is SKA rating?

SKA rating is an environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard developed specifically for commercial office fit outs by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The SKA rating system helps landlords and tenants measure sustainability across factors like energy and water use, CO2 emissions, materials, waste and pollution. It works by assigning either a Bronze, Silver or Gold certification level based on performance against over 100 ‘good practice measures’.

What are the SKA rating levels?

SKA Gold Rating

A gold rating represents comprehensive integration of sustainability features and maximum points in the assessment. It signals leadership in environmentally responsible office interior design and fit outs.

Silver SKA Rating

Silver certification demonstrates major progress in sustainability initiatives through the fit out process. SKA silver rating is seen as the baseline target for many green-conscious companies.

Bronze SKA Rating

The Bronze level award means core sustainability criteria have been met to a basic degree. It establishes commitment while allowing room for improvement in future rounds of certification.

What are the benefits of SKA rating?

Several advantages for landlords and occupiers in undertaking SKA assessment include:

  • Demonstrating sustainability credentials to clients and the public
  • Guidance for project teams on environmental good practice
  • Financial savings through efficiency gains
  • Enhanced company reputation and staff retention
  • Benchmarking for improvement across future office fit outs

The certification also signals compliance with regulations and often alignment to corporate ESG strategies.

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Being a SKA Accredited Assessor myself, allows me to anchor the vision and create inspirational workspaces that also have a positive ecological footprint. Whether we're targeting a Bronze, Silver or Gold rating, the good practice steers our designs towards energy efficiency, reduced waste, ethical resourcing, and enhanced occupant wellbeing.

Jo Jenkinson

Design Director

What is the SKA rating process?

Gaining SKA certification involves four key stages:

  1. Scope: Defining the sustainability criteria relevant for assessing the particular project.
  2. Design Assessment: Evaluating integration of green features at the design phase.
  3. Construction Assessment: Assessing delivered outcomes relative to sustainability benchmarks.
  4. Certification: Scoring performance to assign a Bronze, Silver or Gold rating.

Ongoing reassessment over time then allows ratings to be improved through successive office fit outs

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How to improve your SKA rating

Some ways companies can enhance a RICS SKA rating for their office fit out project include:

  • Installing energy efficient lighting, heating and appliances
  • Sourcing sustainable construction materials
  • Implementing rigorous waste reduction procedures
  • Water saving and monitoring systems
  • Supplying cycling facilities to promote green commutes
  • Creating cleaner air and lighting quality for occupant wellbeing

Taking a lifecycle approach to sustainability – from office design right through construction and occupancy – is key to maximising SKA performance.

The role of people-led design in SKA ratings

Adopting a people-led approach to office design can both improve employee experience as well as boost a company's sustainability credentials under the SKA rating system.

Putting individual occupant needs at the forefront allows designers to enrich workspace ergonomics, comfort, accessibility, safety and overall wellness. This directly supports a business's people strategy centred on attraction, retention and engagement of talent.

Additionally, the focus on human-centric factors within the design process inherently influences sustainability outcomes assessed by SKA. For example, maximising natural light, integrating biophilic elements like plants and water features, ensuring excellent indoor air quality, and promoting active lifestyles through the provision of stairs and recreation spaces.

People-led design also equates to spaces that are adaptable to changing usage needs over time. This facilitates efficient use of materials and resources - aligning with waste reduction and circular economy principles which contribute to enhanced SKA performance.

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SKA rating vs BREEAM

Alongside SKA, BREEAM is another widely used sustainability assessment scheme in the UK. BREEAM employs a broader methodology looking at whole buildings rather than only fit outs. It also uses a scoring system ranging from Acceptable to Outstanding performance across more granular assessment categories.

The choice between BREEAM and SKA rating depends on the specific project type and scope of sustainability enhancement.

Conclusion

With climate change driving action across business, SKA ratings provide a tailored approach to green benchmarking of office fit outs. The Bronze to Gold certification levels recognise sustainability leadership while encouraging continual progress over time.And the assessed good practice measures give clear guidance to owners, managers and office teams looking to elevate eco-performance.

Undertaking SKA assessment signals your organisation’s commitment to an environmentally responsible future.

Meet the Author

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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