KSN Horizon Employee Insights: Raphaëlle Boutin – WELL Certification

KSN Horizon Employee Insights: Raphaëlle Boutin – WELL Certification

As today marks World Health Day, we decided to look at the importance of health and wellbeing in the built environment.

We spend about 90% of our time indoors, which means that our indoor environment plays a crucial role in our general health. In the office, our productivity and overall happiness depend largely on building design and wellness support.

This aspect of corporate sustainability not only improves the working conditions of employees but also benefits a companies’ bottom line. For example, organisations that improved the health and wellbeing of their buildings reported a 19% decrease in absenteeism, a 25% increase in employee retention, and a 47% increase in their employee engagement.

“Healthy buildings are not expensive but
sick people are” – Professor John Macomber, Harvard University

It’s worth noting that healthier buildings also receive a rent premium. In a recent study of American cities, healthier buildings received around 6% more rent per sq foot. From a business point of view, investing in health and wellbeing during the building design and operations can benefit various stakeholders in numerous ways.

As part of World Health Day, Odhran Cussen, Sustainability Researcher with KSN Horizon, sat down with Raphaelle Boutin, KSN Horizon Sustainability Program Manager to discuss her WELL certification experience and the importance of health and wellbeing for building occupants.

Raphaelle, what exactly is WELL, and what actions did you take as part of the WELL assessment?

WELL is an American building certification that applies to both commercial and residential buildings. It is organized around nine key concepts: water and air quality, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, community, and mind. Buildings are assigned a score of Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum, with Bronze being the lowest and Platinum being the highest. WELL’s primary goal is to improve the health and well-being of building occupants.

I worked as a WELL Accredited Professional in France, advising clients on the best strategy to pursue WELL certification during the building development phase. When I was working with clients, I was responsible for creating documentation and gathering evidence for the implementation of WELL features throughout the building. I also spent some time on the WELL platform, where I submitted the final report and provided feedback to the client.

Did you find this aspect of your work rewarding?

WELL is quite unique in that it takes into account both the physical and mental health of building occupants. It was reassuring to know that some companies are willing to invest in healthier working environments by introducing things like mental health screening and internal policies around grievances and quality sleep at a time when mental health awareness is so important.

I found the engagement process to be very interesting as well. As part of my job, I conducted satisfaction surveys and worked with building occupants to learn what they thought about their new structure and how it performed. It was fascinating to analyze this data and see how the building could still be improved from the perspective of the occupants.

Can you tell us how WELL works Raphaelle?

To receive certification, buildings must implement all pre-conditions in each concept, such as air filtration, fundamental water quality, a ban on some processed foods, visual lighting design, and activity incentive programs.

They can also introduce optional, more technical, and focused technologies, practices, and facilities. Outdoor air systems, water treatment facilities, responsible food production, shading, and dimming controls, and physical activity spaces are all examples of this. Buildings that incorporate more optional technologies, of course, tend to receive higher ratings. Simply put, the score you receive represents the amount of time and money invested in improving your building’s health and wellbeing performance.

What did you notice the most while conducting WELL assessments?

The majority of my clients assumed that WELL certification was similar to BREEAM or LEED, but it is not. BREEAM and LEED are not solely concerned with health and well-being; instead, they assess building performance in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. Despite some similarities, WELL certification is a comprehensive approach to occupant health and well-being.

WELL is also relatively new to the market, particularly in Europe.  As a result, some businesses are hesitant to build and maintain their buildings in accordance with WELL standards. Building owners who are hesitant to pursue certification can simply follow the WELL framework and implement some pre-conditions. This will still increase the value of their asset and improve tenant satisfaction without requiring them to go through the entire certification process.

For more information on introducing or improving health and wellbeing features in your building, contact info@ksnhorizon.com.  

IPCC Working Group II Report

IPCC Working Group II Report.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report was released on the 28th of February 2022. The IPCC is an intergovernmental panel of the members of the United Nations. They conduct scientific assessments that explain the current and future risks posed by climate change. The most recent report outlined the immediate and long-term impacts of climate change on our ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities.

General findings

  • The report outlines that around 3.3 – 3.6 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change. Continents like Africa, Asia, Central and Southern America face greater risks due to existing vulnerabilities in food and health systems.
  • Global warming of 1.5C will lead to an unavoidable increase in some climate hazards.
  • The extent of climate change and the adverse effect on humans and ecosystems depends greatly on the immediate implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • The report also observed that the risks posed by extreme weather events are heightening in complexity, making them much more difficult to manage.

Implications for Europe

  • Based on a 1.5C scenario, the risk of mortality from climate events like drought and heatwaves will increase two to threefold at a 3C scenario.
  • The risk of water scarcity will double under a 3C scenario, when compared to a 2C one. In Europe, this will have negative effects on mainly the Western Central and Southern regions.
  • The risk of flooding and sea level rise will double under a 3C scenario. Additionally, current adaptation and mitigation measures will lead to a tenfold increase in coastal flood damage by the end of the century. This poses huge threats to the resilience of Irish coastal regions and cities like Waterford, Limerick, Galway, Cork, and Dublin.

Risk to the Built Environment

  • The IPCC report acknowledges that people, infrastructure, and buildings in coastal cities are already experiencing the adverse effects of sea-level rise and climate variability.
  • The IPCC recommends the continued introduction of policies that incentivize low-carbon technologies in high-emitting sectors like buildings and energy.
  • The IPCC also recommends the continued investment in the heat resistance of the built environment, to reduce the negative effects of prolonged warm periods and higher temperatures.

Figure 1 highlights the number of days above 35C under a 1.5C and 3C scenario.



Figure 2 highlights the increase in maximum one-day precipitation under a 1.5C and 3C scenario



KSN Horizon can help our clients manage their climate impact through our sustainability services, which include carbon mitigation strategies for real estate and the built environment. Contact our team at info@ksnhorizon.com for more information.

Attention commercial real-estate owners, funders, and valuers.

𝐀𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐰𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐯𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐞𝐫𝐬.

The new edition of the RICS Red Book is now effective from 31st January 2022.

With regards to sustainability and ESG, a number of important updates have been included. KSN Horizon has outlined some of the key changes in our graphic below.


If you are looking for strategic sustainable solutions for your commercial property portfolio and/or support with assessing the potential impact of sustainability/ESG issues on valuations, KSN Horizon’s team of sustainability consultants, property and construction professionals and project managers has the expertise and experience to assist.

For more information on our expert-led range of strategic sustainable solutions for the commercial real estate sector contact info@ksnhorizon.com to learn more.

Read the full RICS report here: sustainability-and-esg-guidance-note_january2022.pdf (rics.org)

KSN Horizon Latest Climate News

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) supports society by providing information about the past, present and future climate across the world. Recently, they issued their annual findings regarding climate change which identified that the previous seven years were the warmest years on record. Although 2021 was one of the coldest years among the previous seven, the latest data from Copernicus reaffirms the severity of climate change in terms of rising temperatures. For example, Europe experienced the warmest summer on record, with temperatures pushing 50C in the Mediterranean regions. Also, 2021 was around 1.2C warmer than pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), and 0.3C warmer than the 1990-2020 reference period. This data suggests that our planet is warming at an unprecedented rate, and climate researchers believe that there are no significant signs of abatement.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) have also reached all-time highs. CO2 levels in 2021 reached 414ppm, which is quite worrying given that CO2 levels were around 377ppm in 2005. Atmospheric methane has rapidly increased, sitting at 1876ppb which is in stark contrast to 2005 levels, which reached 1752ppb.

Many communities are also experiencing the adverse effects of rising temperatures. The latest IPCC report identified the increased likelihood of extreme weather events as a direct consequence of climate change. Extreme flooding was experienced across Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, which displaced thousands of individuals and caused huge amounts of physical damage to buildings and infrastructure.

Additionally, increased temperatures and decreased soil moisture exacerbated the risk of wildfire, which wreaked havoc across many of the Greek islands and many Mediterranean regions. This was also evident across North America and Siberia. Wildfires create huge smoke plumes which travel over oceans and across continents, reducing global air quality. Worryingly, the intensity of these wildfires is increasing with many of them lasting most of the summer months. For example, the Sakha Republic in Siberia experienced a ten-fold increase in total wildfire emissions from 2003 to 2021.

Without the implementation of effective climate mitigation strategies across all sectors, these trends will continue to paint a very pessimistic picture. KSN Horizon can help our clients manage their climate impact through our sustainability services, which include carbon mitigation strategies for real estate.

Contact info@ksnhorizon.com to learn more.

KSN Horizon Attend COP 26

KSN Horizon Directors Brian Cunningham, Barry Chambers, and Associate Director, Pierce McAllorum were delighted to attend COP26 in Glasgow as part of their ongoing upskilling and awareness on sustainability matters. The team attend seminars on sustainable finance for real estate and circular economy and sustainability in the built environment as part of their two-day visit.

Follow KSN Horizon on Linkedin to stay up to date on how sustainability legislation may impact your business, or contact info@ksnhorizon.com to learn how to manage your climate impact with our sustainability services.

COP26: Over half of FTSE100 now have net zero targets in place

Government says the number of large companies committing to reach net zero by 2050 at the latest has tripled in the past year.

Over half of FTSE100 companies now have net zero targets in place, having signed up to the UN backed Race to Zero campaign which requires to set targets to achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest and introduce…


The IGBC recommendations to facilitate decarbonisation of Ireland’s built environment.

The Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) published today a preliminary set of recommendations to address the emissions associated with Ireland’s built environment across its whole life cycle.

According to an initial assessment of carbon emissions associated with construction and operation of the Irish built environment, these account for approximately a third of Ireland’s emissions, almost the same as agriculture (37%). The initial assessment showed that heating, cooling and lighting our buildings account for 24% of our national emissions, with the remaining 11% being accounted for by embodied carbon. Embodied emissions result from mining, quarrying, transporting, and manufacturing building materials, in addition to constructing buildings.

While these emissions have been largely ignored to date, on “Cities, Regions and Built Environment” day at COP26, the IGBC published a preliminary set of recommendations to address them

Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) said: “The inclusion of whole life carbon targets for construction in the Climate Action Plan 2021 is a very positive development. What we need now is a clear pathway and concrete actions to reach these targets, and that’s exactly what we are trying to develop, working in close cooperation with industry and the public sector”.

Mr Barry explained that in its preliminary recommendations, the IGBC is proposing:

Carrying out a comprehensive detailed carbon modelling of the National Development Plan including all proposed construction, new housing, renovation and infrastructure and reconcile with the 5-year Climate Budgets to reach the targets of 51% reduction by 2030.
Publishing a detailed timeline for mandating Whole Life Carbon assessment and limits through regulation to provide certainty to industry.
Streamlining building regulations, and aligning all relevant policies, and fiscal incentives to make adaptation and reuse of existing buildings easier.
Mainstreaming innovative procurement approaches to help encourage and develop a low carbon product sector, services, and supply chain.
Integrating low carbon design and construction skills into all relevant construction undergraduate programmes (e.g., architecture, engineering, construction, and surveying).
Reacting to the publication of the preliminary recommendations, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin T.D. said: “We are in the midst of a terrible housing crisis, but we are also in a climate emergency. Interestingly, the preliminary recommendations published today highlights that these can be addressed together: the greenest building is often the one that already exists. Political action is hence more than ever needed to bring more vacant space back into use”.

Kathryn Meghen, CEO at the RIAI added: “Transitioning to a net zero built environment requires strong cooperation of all involved in the industry. While progress has been made, much more is needed to tackle whole life carbon emissions in the built environment. I welcome the publication of these preliminary recommendations and look forward to working with the IGBC and other professional bodies to mobilise the industry”.

#BuildingLife aims to achieve the mix of private sector action and public policy necessary to tackle the whole-life environmental impact of buildings. Eoin Ó Broin T.D. and Kathryn Meghen are ambassadors for the #BuildingLife campaign in Ireland.

The preliminary recommendations will be reviewed and further developed through detailed thematic workshops over the next six months. All organisations interested in contributing to this process should contact the Irish Green Building Council.

The preliminary recommendations are available here.

Read the initial assessment of carbon emissions associated with the construction and operation of the Irish built environment here.

Climate Action Plan 2021

The Climate Action Plan 2021 provides a detailed plan for taking decisive action to achieve a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and setting us on a path to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, as committed to in the Programme for Government and set out in the Climate Act 2021.

It will put Ireland on a more sustainable path; cut emissions; create a cleaner, greener economy and society; and protect us from the devastating consequences of climate change. It is a huge opportunity to create new jobs and grow businesses in areas like offshore wind; cutting-edge agriculture; and retrofitting, making our homes warmer and safer.

The Plan lists the actions needed to deliver on our climate targets and sets indicative ranges of emissions reductions for each sector of the economy. It will be updated annually, including in 2022, to ensure alignment with our legally binding economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral ceilings.

This Plan makes Ireland one of the most ambitious countries in the world on climate.

View the full plan here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6223e-climate-action-plan-2021/

COP 26

FT environment correspondent Leslie Hook outlines the stumbling blocks that could spell success or disaster in Glasgow, including emissions targets, the phasing out of coal, and climate finance

#climatechange #environment