HQE compared to other certifications

What are their specificities ?
HQE Batiment en Renovation - CERTIVEA

HQE certification, like other certifications developed in other countries, is intended to improve the efficiency, value and sustainability of buildings and land developments.

The themes, requirements and levels of performance required may differ from one certification to another, but from our perspective, the greatest difference is in the certification process itself.

One difference often cited is in the price, but we must always compare like with like.

What characterises HQE certification?

Human support

The HQE certification process is clearly defined and offers clients and their design offices both digital and human interaction with designated contacts at Certivea.

The design office often includes an HQE Certification Referent, a professional trained on the relevant certification scheme and recognised by Certivea as qualified on this scheme.

An impartial certification

The HQE certification process is based on third-party audits, performed by independent auditors, on data submitted by the client and its design office.

This process generates constructive dialogue on the ground between the auditor, the client and its design office, providing a better understanding of the context and challenges of each project.


Partnership with Alliance HQE-GBC

The HQE schemes are based on the “Sustainable Building” reference framework of Alliance HQE-GBC, a recognised public utility association comprised of six panels of stakeholders.

The diversity of Alliance members and its proximity to public decision-makers means that the HQE schemes are aligned with public policy, serving the general interest.

Taking local context into account

The HQE schemes consider the local and national context of the projects to be certified.

The levels of requirement in each of the different themes can thus be adapted to a country’s climatic conditions, making the certification more relevant.



A global approach

HQE certifications take a comprehensive approach, incorporating all aspects of sustainable development, while requiring minimal levels of performance for each individual theme.

It is impossible, therefore, to issue HQE certification for a building that excels in some themes but fails to reach the minimal levels required for others.

HQE certifications place more importance on the health and wellbeing of those who use the buildings than other certifications, with these issues accounting for 40% to 50% of the final score.

Innovation, Improvement and accountability

HQE certifications are open to the solutions and recommendations of clients and consultants, but does not themselves prescribe technical measures.

Certification related to the operation of buildings is conducted for periods of three or five years so that changes in performance can be analysed. It holds each of the different stakeholders accountable by separating the actions and outcomes of the owner, operator and users.

HQE Building and HQE Sustainable Building :
common points and differences

  • Our two families of certifications, HQE Building and HQE Sustainable Building, help you improve and enhance the environmental, societal and economic performance of your buildings, as well as the governance and management of your operations. They are part of the “Sustainable Building” reference framework of the HQE-GBC Alliance and provide each of your projects with a structuring and reassuring roadmap.
  • Each family comes in three certifications for Construction, Renovation and Operation.
  • The HQE Building family covers the themes at the heart of sustainable development: energy, water, waste, carbon, adaptation to climate change, health, comfort, project governance…
  • The HQE Sustainable Building family adds to HQE Building, the themes at the heart of the major transitions and public policies of the 2020s: circular economy, biodiversity, inclusive design, local economy, life cycle analysis…
  • The HQE Building family is aimed at all players in commercial real estate. The HQE Sustainable Building family covers more themes and is therefore more demanding. It primarily targets the projects of actors who want to meet the objectives of the European Taxonomy and, more broadly, ESG criteria.

Prices : Is HQE more expensive ?

The prices charged for HQE and for other certifications do not cover the same services. For HQE, these prices also include:

  • access to Certivea contacts throughout the certification process
  • the auditor who controls the data transmitted by the client or by its design offices and who cannot be paid directly by the client since he must be an independent third party,
  • Certivea’s evaluation of audit reports (in other certifications, the design office is also an evaluator and includes this service in its overall invoice).

One oft-cited price gap relates to the certification of buildings in operation. Here again, comparable things must be compared :

  • HQE evaluates the performance trajectory over a period of three to five years, at the customer’s choice,
  • HQE requires an audit or verification to be carried out each year,
  • Other certifications cover only one year of operation of the building and have a validity period of only one year.

If we divide the price of HQE certification by three or five, the amount is close to that of other certifications which are only valid for one year and offer fewer services (no audit, no contact person…).

The price comparison is relevant, however, when a client wants an entire stock of buildings certified, all of which share the same characteristics. Unlike other certifications, HQE works on a sampling basis – which makes its prices more attractive.