Sophia Environment, an independent member of the Sophia Group, offers services to reduce environmental impact of buildings and to design energy efficient construction. The full range of services covers Energy Performance of Building according to EEC Directive, Passive Concept, efficient design of HVAC systems, environmental and energy assessments...
February 1st 2011, Green Value trade mark has been launched in partnership between Sophia Environment, Steps, and XCO. Under this label, the partners will provide to any customers an integrated experienced approach to promote certified long term sustainable buildings. Under these label, these partners offer bespoke sustainable project management, allowing to improve the sustainability of any real estate case.
Steps along with XCO are expert on severe environmental issues providing in-depth assessment on risk exposure and best removal practices, mainly regarding Asbestos and Sick Building Syndrome. They also provide specialized studies of structural problems or special HVAC designs.
Fully aligned on the Group Philosophy Sophia Environment exhibits a fully integrated approach of sustainable Real Estate issues:
- Green VAlue
- Environmental Strategy
- Energy efficiency of already used buildings
- Energy performance for new or refurbished construction
- Passive buildings
- Environmental Certification of Buildings or Projects
- Alternate financing for major refurbishment of co-ownership buildings
- Pollutants and sick building syndrome
- Contaminated lands
- New service: third party financing in co-ownership
Green VAlue is the brand name of a partnership between Sophia Environment, Steps, and XCO. Its objectives are to provide a full coverage of sustainability issues related to building, from pollutants to new sustainable buildings. Green VAlue will promote certified long term sustainable buildings. Green Value also assesses sunken cost and social impacts of sustainable development.
Under the influence of the European Commission, the environmental impact becomes an increased issue for any company, any building, no matter its size. Any building pollutes in various ways, defining a more or less pollution footprint on the environment. Solving environmental issues contribute also to increase the social figures of a company.
Sophia Environment offers bespoke services to help you
- assess your environmental footprint
- define a suitable environmental strategy
- reduction of waste,
- reduction of CO2 emission and reduction of energy costs
- increase well-being
- assess periodically the feasibility of the strategy and the progress made
Energy efficiency of already used buildings
As part of any environmental strategy, the efficient use of energy also reduces costs. Sophia Environment helps you
- locate and track energy waste through audits
- identify the best cost effective improvement to make in equipment
- improve maintenance schemes
Energy performance for new or refurbished construction
Under the EEC Directive for Energy Performance of Buildings, any member states should have implemented new related regulations and laws. In Belgium, each regional government has this responsibility. Since January 2011, each of the three regions (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia) has a dedicated set of regulations and targets to comply with to improve the energy performance of new buildings or partially refurbished buildings. Sophia Environment has trained teams and recognised experience on such matters enabling to avoid the complexity of such studies. Its teams gather all the necessary data leading to an Energy Performance Certificate; provide experience advices on efficient design and are kept up to date on regulations changes.
Sophia Environment believes that Passive Buildings may be an efficient answer to the energy waste of buildings, when it is suitable. In 2019, the Brussels Region should probably target the construction of passive buildings as part of its policy for a Sustainable City. Sophia Environment is already involved in the development of passive housing for public bodies and private promoters.
Environmental Certification of Buildings or Projects
Large projects or institutional and corporate wishes may lead to sustainable commitment beyond regulations. Several international environmental methodologies are well established: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), HQE (High Environmental Quality ou Haute Qualité Environnementale), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment – Environmental Assessment Method). HQE which is dedicated to concept is in partnership with BREEAM which assesses the design, the construction and the use of any new sustainable building. LEED (USA) has common roots with BREEAM. They all focus not only on CO2 emission reduction or energy savings, but also on environmental impacts as a whole including comfort for the building users.
Design Environmentally Certified Buildings has to start at the earliest stage, during the concept phase, because lots of requirements will challenge the creativity of the design teams, leading to unique buildings. As part of its philosophy, Sophia Environment offers to its customers Breeam International and HQE assessors to ensure the follow up of the whole assessment and certification process.
Energy Certification: since January 2011, in case of sell or rent of houses and apartments, any of the three Regions requires an Energy Certificate delivered by an accredited assessor. This certificate is not a sustainable certificate. It only assesses the energy performance of a housing based on a theoretical and comparable use.
Alternate financing for major refurbishment of co-ownership buildings
As pointed out by various European analyses, the energy efficiency of Belgian buildings is unfortunately low compared to other countries. There is still no European Directive to improve existing building outside refurbishment but it is expected for 2019.
Unfortunately also, lots of buildings, especially co-ownership ones, are rather old and not in very good technical conditions. Sophia Environment promotes through its philosophy that technical and environmental improvements should be realised at the same time. By this way, the maintenance and the energy costs of the buildings should be reduced. The comfort of housing is radically increasing. To achieve such results, some of the largest area of the building may be affected leading to important refurbishment costs.
In this respect, in order to allow co-ownership building to improve and to become sustainable, Sophia Environment believes that alternate financing may be required.
To learn more about the Green VAlue Investment Fund click here.
Pollutants and Sick Building Syndrome
Building technologies often relied on Asbestos for lots of application. Since 1991, laws have been published regarding the exposure to asbestos. This pollutant is insidiously dangerous as related sickness will only appear 20 years after exposure. For construction prior to 1990, asbestos is present in one of its various forms in more than 95% of the case. The law also states that any employer is responsible for the consequences of exposure to dangerous pollutants.
Buildings users, especially in housing, are exposed to other pollutants like indoor molds or volatile organic compounds.
The risk of exposure should be assessed by trained professionals, a service provided by Sophia Environment.
Contaminated land is an increasingly important issue, covering not only the conversion of former industrial grounds but also fuel oil leakage or organic compound spills in urban environment.
In Brussels there is an action led by the IBGE (Brussels Environmental Management Agency - Institut Bruxellois de l’Environnement) to map any contaminated land. In some cases, the pollutions levels are high enough to order decontamination.
As part of sustainable development, International Environmental Certification Methods consider that the reuse of contaminated land is a sustainable advantage.
Both aspects require experienced team to solve such issues or to assess its impact on sustainable development, a service provided by Sophia Environment.
New service: third party financing in co-ownership
As of 2010, Sophia Group offers a new financing service to co-ownership buildings. The aim of this project is to help co-ownerships achieve energy savings through third party financing: we invest in our clients building. Once the project is complete, we take part of the savings to recoup our investment.