Ska Rating

Ska Rating

Operated by RICS, Ska Rating is an environmental assessment tool for sustainable fit-outs.

Project teams interested in fitting out spaces in an environmentally sustainable way can use the Ska Rating method to:

- Carry out an informal self- assessment of the environmental performance of their fit-out
- Commission a quality-assured assessment and certificate from an RICS-accredited Ska assessor
- Obtain clear guidance on good practice in fit-out and how to implement it
- Benchmark the performance of fit-outs against each other and the rest of the industry

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Tuesday, 14th May 2013

Urmi Bharne, Mott MacDonald

Based on experience in completing Ska Assessments for external clients and our own offices, take up and awareness of Ska Rating is growing. Two years ago we would have to suggest Ska to clients. Recently, we have seen more clients requesting Ska advice and assessment.

Awareness of Ska can be improved through industry publicity of the Ska Rating process as well as promotion via materials/product suppliers.

Benefits which appeal to clients are: 1) Low costs if managed properly; 2) tailored to fit outs and scope of project; 3) links to ECA tax benefits; 4) Ska association with RICS gives credibility with new clients.

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Tuesday, 14th May 2013

Gavin Summerson, Building Research Establishment (BRE)

Differences between BREEAM and Ska include 1) BREEAM is a UKAS accredited third party certification scheme and therefore requires a robust auditing process. Ska was designed as a self-assessment rating tool; 2) Ska is about rating the scope of works, whereas BREEAM is about making the refurbishment / fit-out process more sustainable and also driving the performance of the overall building.

Ska provides a valuable and more flexible tool in encouraging minor projects to take up sustainability that aren't keen to go as far as BREEAM requires or where BREEAM cannot be applied to small scale fit out. BREEAM Refurbishment Pilot 2014 is being studied for small scale fit out.

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Tuesday, 14th May 2013

Tim Robinson, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Currently, there are nearly 3,300 users signed up to the online tool, 200 accredited assessors, 550 projects formally registered for certification and 76 certified projects (23 Gold, 36 Silver, 17 Bronze).

Take up has increased dramatically in the last year. This is due to a free and accessible tool which has allowed a large number of live projects to undergo informal review without certification.

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Monday, 13th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

Beyond environmental performance, each measure is working to improve CURRENT practice to GOOD PRACTICE. However, performance between measured differs because of the trends/incentives within each industry. ie BES6001 compliance benchmarks exist for Blockwork, Bricks and Screed but not yet for wallpaper. Timber has to be 100% from PEFC/FSC sources and the greater impact of hardwoods is recognized. Bricks made in China are not awarded despite meeting the recycled percentage requirement, as it does not represent good practice.

Long term, the general performance of the interior fit-out industry must first be improved, which is currently very poor, before tougher criteria is made common and loose the majority. Ska Rating Technical Committee is responding to the BES6001 consultation by requesting an easier version to increase adoption by more materials industries and see a Chain of Custody approach for all materials.

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Monday, 13th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

Ska is increasingly included in client briefs, tender documentation, specification clauses and landlord/tenant guides. Take up of the volume certification scheme is around 50-170 stores over the next year.

Non-mandatory post-completion assessments happen one year from handover to check whether occupants are following the plans for the space. Take up of these is limited due to voluntary status. There is no full In-Use assessment which would require a separate team and set of decisions.

For best results, accredited assessors should form part of the design team at development stage to achieve higher ratings. A Ska rating built into the tender documentation is only achievable if the project is designed to this standard. Normal assessment is 5-7 working days over a 6 month project.

Costs: a one of certification fee paid by the Acc. Assessor to RICS (£295 +VAT) on formal submission of the project. Assessor fees are discretionary between the parties involved. Costs in achieving the rating vary according to the experience of the team. Bronze rating involves little to no extra costs. Lush Cosmetics reported a 30% uplift on their first Gold rated assessment. Subsequent Gold projects have cost much less.

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Thursday, 9th May 2013

Tim Robinson, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

We are currently piloting a new process called ‘Ska volume certification’ using the retail scheme as the basis, to enable multiple sites based on a single design to be assessed using a sampling approach which will have significant economies of scale compared with single project certification.

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Thursday, 9th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

The intention behind an action is an issue that also comes up when a project team states that they have retained something and should be awarded for it when you know as an assessor they were not intending to replace it in the first place. We have had numerous debates on the morality, trust and overall impact this issue creates and have not come to a satisfying conclusion without making the tool impractically complex or the solution practically viable. We would be delighted to receive feedback on such cases from everyone and have a wider discussion on this.
All these issues make the importance of assessor knowledge and credibility so much more important and are the reasons we have taken steps to introduce the Registration scheme.

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Thursday, 9th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

Regarding WTL/ETL evidence checks and compliance: This is an area that has produced a few top level queries only and we are introducing a step improvement in the latest Offices version 1.2. The solution would be for all suppliers and manufacturers to upload their products on the scheme. There are different issues why they don’t do this but some of these include (perception) of cost, lack of awareness and marketing opportunity of being on it, fear of the label being superseded by something else in a couple of years time and having to go through it all again etc. These lists and now the new EU energy label (in v1.2) are the only ones we are comfortable to use to ensure an independent, reliable benchmark of performance per item without introducing another calculation or process ourselves. We would be very happy to run a workshop on compliance and evidence approaches to energy and water items, so this could be taken up in the next couple of months if there is interest.

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Thursday, 9th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

Regarding robustness of evidence, we need to keep in mind that we are rating interior fit-outs and not whole buildings. Therefore if we increase the intensity of the verification process, this would increase the cost of the assessment either though assessor fees or by auditing time/cost and would not be viable to the majority on interior fit-out budgets, team compositions or timescales. That does not mean that we are not constantly looking to find ways to make evidence types easier to produce to start with and then easier to check by the assessor thereafter to reduce risk wherever possible.

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Thursday, 9th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

It has been a strength and also a weakness that assessor knowledge is depended upon in certain situations to make a decision. We have been very aware of the knowledge base variety and have considered how to tackle this at length. One of the options was to have either a minimum entry requirement (to become an assessor) based on industry experience or/and sustainable understanding or a multi-question test on a minimum level of knowledge that would cover both the interior fit-out and sustainability sectors. This has challenges of course and does not ensure the implementation of that knowledge in the long run, so our first step has been to implement a supportive structure through the Assessor Registration scheme which, as an outline, includes a continuous knowledge enhancing requirement (CPDs), enhanced auditing and re-takes of exam every three years. We are also improving the training material and monitoring the type of queries that are received through the Online Assessor Forum to understand where we can improve on the knowledge assessors have. The advantage of making some decisions assessor based are of course that real sustainable results are awarded and we all experience a less bureaucratic process that serves fewer people than it rewards in these instances.

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Thursday, 9th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

The submission fee pays for the running and administering of the tool. As the onus is on the assessor, and RICS and the UKAS auditors form only the compliance check, the costs would always reflect this. As interior fit-out is a different product size in cost and timescale, the assessment approach needs to reflect this. Saying this, the certificate cost is going to be increasing and more details will be publicized in the next couple of weeks. The fee increase is reflecting the cost to implement enhanced auditing which will be active as of next month and will further help ensure consistency of the application of Ska Rating by assessors. This forms part of the new Ska Rating Assessor Registration scheme and further details can be found here.

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Wednesday, 8th May 2013

Rory Bergin, HTA

I like the ease of use of the tool and the less complex manual and guidelines. I also like the current approach where the rating rewards high performance and the onus is on the manufacturer to meet that target.

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Wednesday, 8th May 2013

Elina Grigoriou, Grigoriou Interiors & Technical Chair for Ska Rating

The practicality of the tool for day to day delivery is a key part of the tool’s philosophy and any new change is always checked back to this and the other Ska philosophy points. If we as design and delivery professionals don’t understand it then it will not work. In revisions, some measures have been simplified following their original issue because we found the language was just not easy to comprehend or implement at a good practice level.

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Wednesday, 8th May 2013

Lara Conaway, GVA

I find the language used in Ska is very user-friendly and helps to engage a wider audience than just assessors and others who are familiar with terminology. I have used Ska and would recommend on most projects, even the smaller ones. The flexible scoping means it can be adjusted to suit most projects and the corresponding Ska assessor fee can also be adjusted according to the input required. I wouldn't like to see Ska require a high submission fee to RICS which would then tend to make it less attractive on costs for smaller projects.

Whilst the evidence required is not as robust as BREEAM the whole structure and approach encourages Ska to be used more widely and I think it's important to engage more clients and fit out projects in taking up Ska. The link to the Energy Technology List (ETL) and Water Technology List (WTL) makes sense in respect of making use of a recognised measurement, but it does make it incredibly difficult to properly assess products that are required to meet the Water Technology List (WTL) or Energy Technology List (ETL) criteria, rather than products that are specifically listed. This is where it takes time for the assessor (and hence adds cost) if they are not provided with effective evidence from the contractor.

The looser requirements in the scheme does sometimes mean measures aren't awarded by the assessor when infact the intention is achieved in the project, it's just not quite in place at the time of the assessment.

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Wednesday, 8th May 2013

Alan Fogerty, Cundall

This is a useful tool and a good alternative to BREEAM, as it is focused on fit-out and can be tailored to suit the scope of a project. We have applied it and would recommend it. It is flexible and encourages fit outs to consider environmental performance even on fairly minor works. It is relatively simple to use and understand the issues. The strength and weakness is that it is relying on the assessor’s knowledge of the issues to make a real impact and the evidence required is not as robust as BREEAM. There is a reliance on the Energy Technology List (ETL) for determining whether certain credits can be achieved. This can be quite detailed work as a range of products only have the criteria against which they are assessed and not a product list, this can take assessor beyond their level of expertise. Having said that is less of a tick box approach and so design teams are more enthusiastic about its use.

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RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) is an international professional body with over 100,000 members. We represent everything professional and ethical in land, property and construction. Read more


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