There are two ways of going about integrating the environment into an activity. One is to evaluate the quality of a product; the other is to conceive a product and bring it into being. The HQE procedure clearly implies the second of these ways, though it must of course be supplemented by verifying that the procedure conformed with the reference method and that the environmental goals are plainly stipulated. A sense of responsibility is thus built in to HQE: it places the works controller, at the front, and it enables the various elements of the operation, the implant site, the project's precise character, and the stakeholders' environmental policy, to be properly integrated.
International approaches, and in particular those which ISO works involve, are of a universal nature, and can be applied in many different contexts. This is the thinking behind the HQE procedure, though the building sector is essentially a very local one. HQE is the fruit of mature reflection and French experiments. While it derived great benefit from studies and international action in the early 1990s, it is also anchored in building culture and the building profession, as these have developed in France . It was therefore very important to bring this approach face to face with various different practices - for which its potential extension to the Mediterranean basin offered rich opportunities. Ten years after it was first put into practice in France , the HQE procedure is well worth thinking about, in view of the improvements made to it and the adaptations of it to new contexts. Thus the Mediterranean viewpoint is a valuable aspect of HQE.
Worldwide, there are a whole host of approaches to building these days, and the progress made is regularly highlighted at conferences. This is an issue which affects normalization, both in Europe and globally, since it deals with environmentally 'heavy' domains as well as with economic and social factors. An important stage in this movement of international progress is to compare and contrast national methods and to progressively and collectively work out regional approaches, keeping the universal and the local elements carefully separate. The SDMed procedure study on applying sustainable development to the building sector is a valuable contribution by the SDMed initiative, and a notable 'first'.
Honorary President of the HQE Association (1996-2006)
President of CIDB
For further reading : SDMed Process for buildings