Review by Allison
The HQE® (high environmental quality) certification The French Green Certification
Launched in 1996, the HQE® (High Environmental Quality) certification system is not the only French certification promoting sustainability in construction but it is the most commonly used in France for new buildings but also retrofitted existing build- ings.
To what extent is HQE® a legitimate and demanding approach for sustainable con- struction and building?
The certification aims at enabling developers and project owners to adopt the construc- tion options most suited to sustainable development, at all stages of a building’s life cycle (manufacture, construction, use, maintenance, conversion and end of life), and to promote the eco-design of buildings with a green HQE® label.
The High Environmental Quality is an environmental concept developed during the 1990s that has lead to the creation of the HQE® commercial brand (owned by the HQE® Association) and certification NF Ouvrage Démarche HQE® (French norm concerning High Environmental Quality Approach) by AFNOR. This private initiative was inspired by the public owned certification HPE (High Energy Performance) and HPE-EnR (Renewable Energies) to which it adds sanitary, hydrologic and vegetal di- mensions.
The HQE® approach can be certified by the HQE® Association (An officially recog- nized organization of public interest in 2004). The HQE® certification for the service sector constructions is delivered by an independent certification body through audi- tions: Certivea. Concerning the Housing projects, similar certifications exist: Qualitel and Habitat&Environnement that is delivered by the certification body Cerqual.
“HQE is the most recognized and wide-spread Certification system for sustainable construction and building in France. Built on long-term research and based on strong and on-going consensus with main stakeholders, the High Quality for the Environment third-party certification is delivered for
non-residential buildings [...]” 1
“Along with the High Quality for the Environment Association, an original associative body dedicated to identify, promote and sustain best practices for sustainable building in France and worldwide for
more than 15 years, Certivéa and their partners are willing to move forward. Environ- mentally friendly buildings are, indeed, only one step towards sustainable cities, towns and neighborhoods.” 2
HQE® is an “approach”, it can lead to a certification that approves the consideration of environmental issues in the construction of a building. This approach is divided into 14 targets distributed in 4 families and each target decomposes itself into a number of sub-targets, bringing the number of treated topic up to 52.
HQE promotes an overall cradle-to-the-grave approach. The environmental quality of buildings is assessed through two angles : controlling the impacts on the outer envi- ronment (eco-construction and eco-management targets) and creating a satisfactory internal environment (confort and health targets). The 4 families and 14 Targets are the following:
Opportunities and Limits
This certification invites the building professionals to build more sustainably and to promote their green projects thus using sustainability as a marketing asset (Economy of energy, water, money and Ecology that is a popular concept).
Contrary to the public labels HPE, HPE-EnR, HPE-2009 or BBC (Low energy Build- ing), the HQE® is a privately owned brand by the association HQE®. It is criticized for its lack of readability and its commercial and industrial aims. Thus the organization ad- here to the AIMCC (a building materials producers organization) and some profession- als prefer using the British BREEAM certification or the French public certifications.
Rudy Riciotti, who received the national architecture prize in 2006, openly criticized the HQE® in the speech he did for this occasion, calling it a “green fur, future urban opium”3. He wrote a book HQE: the temple’s foxes in which he invites the reader in a questioning of the environmental question, sustainability and the damages of the “HQE doctrine” and the energy reduction norms. He thinks HQE allows to make profit out of a growing ecologic concern, still arming the planet in an other way. According to Riciotti, HQE® generates an over-consumption of materials and a degradation of the architectural landscape.
The French Architect Organization (Ordre des Architectes) has produced a critic reflec- tion concerning the HQE®, inviting architects to go further than the HQE® – mainly environmental aims, neglecting some of the major aspects of sustainability - with a global architectural innovation concerning environmental but also social, economical and cultural questions.unity Market, would be a great way to engage people with the overall EcoLoving project. Community groups raise funds on market days by baking
1. Certivea Website
http://www.certivea.fr/ (visited the 03/08/2011)
2. Certivea Website
http://www.certivea.fr/ (visited the 03/08/2011)
3. « la fourrure verte, futur opium de l’urbain » Wikipedia http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haute_qualit%C3%A9_environnementale (visited the 03/08/2011)
1. UNEP-FI / SBCI’s financial and sustainability metrics report – An international review of sustainable building performance indicators & benchmarks, by Clare Lowe and Alpfonso Ponce http://www.certivea.com/uk/documentations/simplificado.pdf (visited the 03/08/2011)
2. ATELIER «HABITAT ET ENVIRONNEMENT» – Exigences de la H.Q.E (Haute Qualité Environnementale) Bilan, critiques, avenir
http://www.concept-bio.eu/hqe-approach.php (visited the 03/08/2011)
3. Rudy Ricciotti’s website
http://www.rudyricciotti.com/ (visited the 03/08/2011)
Greenstar rating system