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Last edited 13 Apr 2015
Ska rating for non-domestic fit outs
Ska Rating is a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic fit outs. It helps landlords and tenants assess fit out projects against a set of sustainability good practice criteria, known as Good Practice Measures (GPM).
Previously, although there were established tools for assessing the environmental impact of whole buildings (such as BREEAM in the UK and LEED in the US), industry feedback about the certification of fit out, especially on existing buildings, indicated that attempts to use whole building systems were unsatisfactory both in terms of high costs and low relevance.
Ska Rating was developed with designers, contractors, corporate occupiers, managing agents and consultants. The initial research project was started in 2005 by the fit out and refurbishment contractor Skansen (giving Ska it’s name) but was taken over by the RICS in 2009.
It differs from other labelling systems in that it is:
- Project driven: it labels fit out projects irrespective of the base building.
- A free online tool to help organisations achieve more sustainable fit outs (businesses only pay if they want formal certification).
- Flexible scoping: the tool measures only what is within the specific project’s scope.
 Measures in scope
Ska comprises over 100 GPM’s, covering energy and CO2, waste, water, pollution, transport, materials and wellbeing. Each good practice measure is outlined in a data sheet explaining the criteria that need to be achieved, including the rationale behind the measure and guidance on how to achieve it.
Because each fit out project is unique in terms of the employers' requirements, the building, site or scope of works, Ska Rating scores the project only on the basis of those measures that are relevant to the project. These are called 'measures in scope'. Typically, between 30 and 60 measures are likely to apply to most projects. The score is ranked in three thresholds: Bronze, Silver and Gold. These thresholds are reached by achieving 75%, 50% or 25%, respectively of the measures in scope, which must include GPM’s from a pool of gateway measures.
Some measures are more important from a sustainability perspective, so the measures are ranked from 1 to 104, (1 is the highest and 104 the lowest). To ensure that teams do not just target the easiest measures, the project has to achieve a number of the highest ranked measures in scope in order to score. These are known as gateway measures.
 How do you get an assessment undertaken?
Anyone can use the free online Ska Rating tool to informally evaluate a project. Professional certification can be achieved by engaging a Ska assessor to rate and certify the project. RICS operates an accreditation scheme to enable qualified professionals to undertake Ska rating assessments on behalf of organisations and a list of assessors can be found on the RICS website. RICS charges £60 for each certification the assessors carry out. The assessor typically charges £2,000-£3,000 per certification, depending on the nature and complexity of the project.
 How is an assessment carried out?
The Ska assessment process is broken into three stages, with a certificate issued at completion of the project.
At this stage the measures and issues are identified. The client then has the opportunity to prioritise which measures they want to achieve and make decisions in relation to design, cost, programme and benefit. This will set the environmental performance standards for how the project is delivered in terms of waste, energy in use, etc. Then, if the specification demonstrates that these measures are likely to be achieved, they will be reflected in an indicative rating.
This involves gathering evidence from Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manuals and other sources to prove that what was specified has actually been delivered, and that the performance and waste benchmarks have been achieved.
 How long does certification take?
Certification is a quick process. Once the handover stage has been assessed by an accredited assessor and the supporting information has been added to the online tool, the certificate is automatically produced so it can be issued to the client (at the same time the certificate is automatically lodged with the RICS).
 Key aspects of the rating system
- Flexible scoping: match the rating to the scope of the fit out.
- Easy-to-use online tool.
- A label that is clear and easy to understand: bronze, silver and gold.
- Formal quality assured scheme for those who require a certificate.
- Applicable to offices and retail fit outs.
- Access to lease funding for the project.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Code for Sustainable Homes.
- Common Minimum Standards.
- Government Construction Strategy.
- Key performance indicators.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Operations and maintenance manual.
- Performance in use.
- Post occupancy evaluation.
- Whole-life costs
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