– What is the HQE?
– Definition formalized by the HQE Association
– Terms of reference
– The certification
The HQE (High Environmental Quality) approach is a quality approach that enables environmental requirements to be integrated into construction, rehabilitation, and development projects. It was created in 2002 by the HQE association, which is continually evolving to adapt to technical progress and the habits of professionals. This was the case in 2015 when a new “reference framework” was put in place.
Note: compliance with the HQE approach, High Environmental Quality, leads to the certification of these operations.
What is HQE?
The HQE is neither a regulation nor a label, contrary to what is stated here and there. The HQE is:
– a quality approach, which is based on a “frame of reference”;
– certifications, each adapted to the type of building concerned (individual house, collective housing, offices, etc.);
– a registered trademark, managed by the HQE association.
Definition formalized by the HQE association
The HQE Association defines a sustainable building as follows:
“In interaction with its territory, a sustainable building is a structure that offers a good quality of life, respects the environment, and provides energy and economic performance. It is designed, managed, and used responsibly throughout its life cycle.»
Terms of reference
A methodology that adapts to the project
The HQE approach is explained in what the HQE Association calls the “frame of reference”. This is a methodology to guide professionals towards environmental performance: the owner remains free to prioritize these priorities within a given framework, unlike a label where the requirements are predefined.
It is therefore a common set of principles and objectives, which everyone must adapt to the problems of their area and their construction, rehabilitation, or development project.
4 commitments, a management system
The HQE standard is based on 4 “commitments”, including a management system:
– Quality of life: Safer, health-promoting living spaces, services that make it easier to live well together, and spaces that are pleasant to live in, practical, and comfortable.
– Respect for the environment: rational use of energy and natural resources, limiting pollution and combating climate change, taking into account nature and biodiversity.
– Economic performance: optimizing charges and costs, improving an asset, financial, and usage value, and contributing to the dynamism and development of regions.
– Responsible management: an organization adapted to the objectives of quality, performance, and dialogue, steering for a controlled project, an evaluation that guarantees continuous improvement.
Note: before 2015, the HQE approach reference framework was based on 14 “targets” on the one hand, and a management system on the other. Since 2015, the 14 targets have disappeared in favor of the 4 commitments, of which the responsible management system is a part (formerly operation management, SMO, or environmental management, EMS).
The name HQE™ requires the use of a certification
The HQE Association gives free access to the use of this reference framework, for example as a methodological guide. However, users must cite the association as the author and inform it of the use made of it. However, users of this framework cannot appropriate the name HQE™, which is not free of rights. Only certified buildings benefit from a contractual right to use the mark HQE™.
Who to contact?
Certification is governed by the building code and only approved bodies can issue certification. Thus, it is not the HQE association that certifies buildings. Depending on the type of building, you will need to enquire with your local town hall or request your builder for more information. A knowledgeable contractor will definitely help you and this way, you will know you are dealing with the right contractor.