EU launches new tool for sustainable buildings

The European Commission has launched a new tool for sustainable buildings, which it hopes will create a ‘common language’ for the construction sector.

The voluntary reporting framework Level(s) has been developed to create a cohesive approach across the whole EU to assessing environmental protection in new offices and homes.

It is the first tool of its kind to have been developed across the whole of the EU and will run until 2019.

It focuses on the main aspects of a building’s performance, including greenhouse gas emissions throughout its life cycle, the efficient use of water resources and resilience to climate change.

According to the EU briefing document, the framework ‘focuses attention on the most important aspects of a building’s performance’ and provides a ‘simple entry point to what can be a very complex area’.

‘Common language’

The framework features ‘indicators and common metrics for measuring the environmental performance of buildings along their life cycle’.

It also enables other important aspects of a building’s performance to be assessed using indicators for health and comfort, life cycle cost and potential future risks to performance.

‘Level(s) aims to provide a general language of sustainability for buildings,’ the report adds.

‘This common language should enable actions to be taken at building level that can make a clear contribution to broader European environmental policy objectives.’

Shifting sustainability ‘from niche to norm’

The online tool has been developed by the European Commission in collaboration with key players such as Skanska, Saint-Gobain, the Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils.

‘Level(s) can help us develop an environment built sustainably across Europe and support our transition to the circular economy,’ said European Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella.

‘We are releasing this framework for the sector during World Green Building Week, demonstrating Europe’s global leadership,’ he added.

‘It marks an important step towards a more resource efficient and competitive construction sector in Europe.’

The director of the World Green Building Council’s Europe Regional Network, James Drinkwater, added: ‘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.’

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Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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