Level(s) – Common EU indicators for the resource efficiency of buildings

Level(s) – Common EU indicators for resource efficiency of buildings
 

What is Level(s)?

Level(s) is a framework designed by the European Commission for measuring resource efficiency in building. It was developed through extensive cooperation between the EU Member States and sustainable building professionals. Companies and organisations in the building sector played an important role in the process.

The Level(s) framework has six macro-objectives:

  • Macro-objective 1: Carbon footprint along a building's life cycle
  • Macro-objective 2: Resource-efficient use of materials
  • Macro-objective 3: Water consumption
  • Macro-objective 4: Healthy spaces and indoor air quality
  • Macro-objective 5: Adaptation to climate change
  • Macro-objective 6: Life cycle costs

Each macro-objective is made up of several components. Most of the objectives require the application of the current EU standards. Assessments can be made at three levels of detail:

  1. Common performance assessment
    • A common reference point for the performance assessment of buildings across the EU
     
  2. Comparative performance assessment
    • Meaningful comparisons between functionally equivalent buildings
     
  3. Performance optimisation assessment
    • Most advanced use of each environmental indicator

The purpose of the three levels of performance assessments is to ensure that the framework is applicable to different uses. The simplified common assessment offers a low threshold for starting a life cycle assessment, whereas the most advanced level enables the use of comprehensive assessment methods by professionals who are experienced in life cycle assessment.

Why Level(s)?

Level(s) aims to create a common basis for the indicators used to assess the resource efficiency and ecology of building in different countries. A further aim of the framework is to develop a common language and set of concepts to support effective communication.

Different environmental indicator systems for building will not necessarily produce commensurate data on the resource efficiency of buildings. Consumers, designers, builders and investors need clearer, higher-quality information on the impact of building on the consumption of our limited resources.

Level(s) aims to create a common basis for the indicators used to assess the resource efficiency and ecology of building in different countries. A further aim is to develop a common language and set of concepts to support effective communication. This framework can also be applied to the development of commercial environmental certificates, such as the RTS Environmental Classification, LEED or BREEAM.

The development of the framework makes an important contribution to the European Commission’s work on promoting the circular economy. The Commission’s Circular Economy Package adopted in 2015 contains an extensive Action Plan and a number of proposed legislative amendments to support reducing environmental impacts. This is important because each year, about half of the world’s natural resources are used for building, and because the built environment consumes significant amounts of energy and causes a great deal of greenhouse gas emissions.

Who is Level(s) for?

Level(s) can be used by various stakeholders in the building process including, but not limited to:

  • designers
  • building companies
  • real estate maintenance
  • owners and users of buildings
  • real estate investors

The framework or parts of it can also be used for research and further development of indicators for resource efficiency in building.

How will Level(s) be introduced?

Before its introduction, the Level(s) framework is being tested in the EU Member States. After the testing phase, the goal is to introduce the indicators in all EU Member States on a voluntary basis. In Finland, the Level(s) framework was tested in 2018–2019 as a joint effort coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment and Green Building Council Finland. The test period in Finland focused mainly on the carbon footprint and resource efficiency of building (macro-objectives 1 and 2).

Level(s) and the development of building regulations in Finland

The use of Level(s) is voluntary. At the Ministry of the Environment, the Level(s) framework has been incorporated into the implementation of the roadmap for low-carbon building (link in Finnish). The Ministry of the Environment aims to create an assessment and reporting method for low-carbon building in Finland that is based on the EU standards and takes into account the principles of Level(s).

Read more about this topic

Inquiries

Simon Le Roux
Project Specialist
Ministry of the Environment
+358 295 250 086
firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Published 2018-02-15 at 11:45, updated 2019-10-04 at 13:32