Level(s) – Common EU indicators for 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 has been developed in broadly-based cooperation between the EU Member States and professionals in sustainable building. Companies and various organisations in the building sector have an important role in the process.

Level(s) framework is composed of six macro-objectives:

  • Macro-objective 1: Greenhouse gas emissions along a buildings life cycle
  • Macro-objective 2: Resource efficient and circular material life cycles
  • Macro-objective 3: Efficient use of water resources
  • Macro-objective 4: Healthy and comfortable spaces
  • Macro-objective 5: Adaptation and resilience to climate change
  • Macro-objective 6: Optimised life cycle cost and value

The macro-objectives are associated with core indicators and life cycle tools to measure and analyze the performance of buildings. Most of the objectives require that the current EU standards are being applied. Performance can be assessment on three levels of accuracy:

  • Level 1: The common performance assessment
    • Common reference point for performance assessment of buildings across the EU
     
  • Level 2: Comparative performance assessment
    • Comparisons between functionally equivalent buildings
     
  • Level 3: Optimized performance assessment
    • Advanced use of environmental indicators

The purpose of the three assessment levels is to ensure that the framework is applicable to different uses. The simple, common assessment provides a low threshold to start a life cycle assessment. The most advanced level enables the use of diverse assessment methods for the needs of professionals experienced in life cycle assessment.

A Level(s) toolkit composed of three manuals has been published on the European Commission website.

Why Level(s)?

Level(s) creates a common framework for the indicators for resource efficiency and sustainability of building used in different countries. The aim is also to create a common language and terminology in support of communication.

Sets of different kinds of environmental indicators for building may not produce comparable data on the resource efficiency of building. Consumers, designers, builders and investors need clear information of a higher standard about the impact of buildings on the exploitation of limited resources. Level(s) offers a common framework for reporting and communication about the resource efficiency of buildings. This framework can also be applied to the coordinated development of commercial environmental certificates (e.g. RTS Environmental Classification, LEED or BREEAM).

The development of the method makes an important contribution to the European Commission’s work on promoting the circular economy. The Commission’s Circular Economy Package adopted in December 2015 contains an extensive Action Plan and a number of legislative proposals to support this. Each year about half of the world’s natural resources are used for building, while the built environment consumes significant amounts of energy and causes high greenhouse gas emissions.

Who is Level(s) for?

Level(s) is suitable for use by various stakeholders in the building process:

  • 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 is Level(s) to be introduced?

The use of Level(s) is being tested in the EU Member States in 2018–2019. In Finland the testing is coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, GBC Finland and Building Information Group together with the Housing Finance and Development Centre ARA. The focus in Finland is on the carbon footprint and resource efficiency of buildings (Macro-objectives 1 and 2). After testing the core indicators should be introduced for use in all EU Member States on a voluntary basis.

The purpose of the testing is to establish the applicability and usability of the Level(s) framework for the assessment of different kinds of building projects. The experiences from the testing phase are reported to the European Commission and used for further development of the framework.

Connections to the development of the Finnish Building Code

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

Inquiries

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

Published 2018-02-15 at 11:45, updated 2018-02-15 at 14:45