28 September 2017

EU launches first tool to link building sustainability performance with circular economy

On Thursday, the European Commission launched the pilot phase of a new EU-wide framework for sustainable buildings called ‘Level(s), an assessment framework aiming to transform the building sector.

Level(s) constitutes a voluntary reporting framework using existing standards in order to assess the environmental performance in the built environment, where all building projects are invited to participate.

It is an open source assessment framework that has been developed for two years now, in consultation with key industry players like Skanska, Saint-Gobain, Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils and the public sector.

The pilot tool focuses on performance indicators across areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, resource and water efficiency, health and comfort.

More specifically, the indicators will focus on GHG emissions throughout the building’s life cycle, material life cycles which are resource efficient and circular, efficient use of water resources, healthy and comfortable spaces, adaptation and resilience to climate change and whole building life cost and value.

Each of the indicators is designed to link the building’s impact with the EU priorities for circular economy, and to broadly link sustainability in buildings with the delivery of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The building sector is a key target in the EC’s policy to promote a circular economy, as it is one of the most resource consuming sectors accounting for approximately half of all extracted materials and energy consumption, and one third of water consumption and waste generation.

One of the main aims is to establish a ‘common language’ on what sustainability in buildings is in practice, shedding light in areas beyond exclusively energy performance.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: “Level(s) can help us develop an environment built sustainably across Europe and support our transition to the circular economy”.

“We are releasing this framework for the sector during World Green Building Week demonstrating Europe’s global leadership. It marks an important step towards a more resource-efficient and competitive construction sector in Europe.”

James Drinkwater, Director of the World Green Building Council's Europe Regional Network said: “This is a clear signal to the market that sustainable building practice is shifting from niche to norm”.

“Having a common goal to deliver nearly zero-energy buildings across Europe galvanised industry-wide action, and now having a common language around ‘sustainable’ building helps us begin to really transform mainstream practice”.

The pilot phase of Level(s) will last until 2019. 

For an extensive introduction to Level(s) and how it works click here

For a detailed guidance on how to make performance assessments using Level(s) click here

To register your interest in participating to the testing period of Level(s) click here

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