mdgae | well | breeam | certifications

The students of the Master's Degree University in design and management Environmental Buildings (MDGAE) learn in the week of WELL & BREEAM® certifications.

Master's Degree Marycarmen Murillo Frías, a student of the design and management Environmental Management of Buildings (MDGAE), tells us what she learned from the experience.

"Achieving environmental certification ensures that the building meets national and/or international standards, and that it has conducted a comprehensive assessment of its processes and their impact on the environment.

The students of Master's Degree University in design and management Environmental Buildings (MDGAE) enjoyed the week of certifications before the end of the course. It consisted of two modules, one introductory to WELL certification and the other to BREEAM® certification, each with practical cases to develop the knowledge acquired.

The first module of the week consisted of an introduction to WELL given by the high school Tecnológico de Galicia (WELL Market Partner). The course lasted 7 teaching hours and focused on health and wellbeing. We spend 90% of our time in enclosed spaces and therefore these have a great effect on our health, well-being and productivity. WELL certification is a system of score for both buildings and communities. It allows measuring the characteristics of spaces by applying strategies to promote an active and healthy lifestyle.

The WELL introductory course consisted of presentations and exercises. We learned the 10 evaluable concepts for housing, hotels and offices. These concepts are: air, water, power, lighting, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community. Depending on the level of certification it can be bronze, silver, gold or platinum.

The module was divided into 3 blocks: Introduction to WELL, the certification process, the 'features' in WELL V2 and, finally, the case study as an exercise of assessment. Our case study consisted of a work in teams of 4 members and in a fictitious building that aspires to obtain the "WELL v2" certification. The goal of this internship was to determine the final score of the building and to classify it. The latest version of WELL (V2) seeks to promote the 'sustainable development goals', that is, its mission statement is the implementation of healthy buildings and communities from a holistic vision. 

The second module consisted of the BREEAM® certification (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology). It is a method of reference letter worldwide for the assessment and certification of sustainability in buildings, i.e., a technically advanced standard that promotes better management of sustainable construction through processes to measure and evaluate the sustainability levels of buildings and urban developments. This certification benefits the Username with higher quality of life and less consumption, the planet with lower emissions and environmental impact, the owner/investor with a longer useful life of the property and increasing the value of the asset and, finally, the design team, providing a differential service and an element of improvement of the initial proposals.

The course, like the previous one, lasted 7 teaching hours. We learned that the methodology of certificate consists of ten categories: management, health and wellness, energy, transport, water, materials, waste, ecological land use, pollution and innovation. Five types of certifications can be distinguished: urban planning, housing, new construction, customized and in use. Each project evaluated can obtain a final score which translates into a 5-star sustainability scale.

At the end of the teaching hours and the doubts session, we moved on to the case study, again in teams of 4 people. Each one received a notebook with a case study and we organized ourselves to review each category and write down the level obtained. At the end we compared the results with those of the other teams. We realized that we were all in the same results, there were only a few points that varied the answers. It was very interactive on the part of the moderators. Comparing the answers and analyzing them was a very enriching experience to have these concepts clearer.

After completing the case study and comparing the answers, we took a quick test to evaluate what we had learned during the session. To finish the course and obtain our certificate of participation, we took as homework a new case study, in this case individually, same methodology of work, but this time each student took from reference letter a project staff . It was delivered and evaluated the following 2 days.

In conclusion, these days of readings and practical exercises on these different certification methodologies leave me with a very important learning about the value of human well-being, the importance of going back to the origin of architecture, which is the creation of a shelter for human beings and not only add the value of the real estate, but of the well-being and health of its occupants. A healthy environment improves performance and well-being, how important it is to invest in the most important asset: people." 

Text written by Marycarmen Murillo Frías, student of Master's Degree University in design and management Environmental Buildings (MDGAE).

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