Level(s): key stakeholder join the testing stage

by Sebastiano Cristoforetti CRISCON ||| Construction Sustainability Consulting

As you may recall, if you read the previous articles of the September and November 2017 issue dedicated to Level(s), to which we refer, this is the first common framework of indicators and metrics for measuring the sustainability performance of buildings, both residential and tertiary, new or subject to major renovation. Level(s) is not competing with the market rating systems (LEED®, BREEAM®, DGNB® etc.), establishing a reporting tool that can be incorporated or connected to certification schemes. Downstream of a widely participated path with associations and key representatives of the entire construction supply chain, NGOs, multiple stakeholders of different sectors, Level(s) was published in August 2017 and enters a testing stage of application and validation in 2017-2018.

We anticipated in the last issue of E2B that the European Commission would bring together over 50 key stakeholders on 4 December in Brussels to share a set of initiatives already defined or launched for Level(s)’ testing stage and to compare the perspectives of those who intend to participate in the experimental validation and the operational details with the representatives of the sector. We participated in the event and the debate and in this issue we will give a brief, personal, update.

For the European Union, Level(s) is the key tool for promoting the circular economy and competitiveness in the construction sector, affecting the huge building stock which will have to be subject to major renovation (but it also applies to new buildings). As for last June’s Energy Week, alongside the broad representatives of the European Commission, Directorate General for Environment and Growth (DG ENV, DG GROW), and its Joint Research Center(JRC), the support of the European Parliament should be emphasized, here with Sirpa Pietikäinen, former Finnish Minister of Environment. The role of parliament is crucial to the approval of ambitious future versions of the directives (i.e. EPBD, EED). A future SPBD, a directive for the sustainability performance of buildings, can be envisaged on the horizon.

Key players in Level(s)’ testing, as in its development, will be the National Green Building Councils, in particular the voluntary rating system holders of the European section of the World Green Building Council, which brings together 73 GBCs, 26 of which in Europe, with over 5000 associates. DGNB, GBCe, HQE, IGBC, which operate certification schemes, in addition to BRE (which operates BREEAM) presented their commitment. DGNB, with the release of the 2018 version of its rating systems for green buildings, will incorporate the connection to Level(s)’ reporting.

The most advanced industry innovates by promoting green buildings and technical standardization for measuring the sustainability performance of buildings and for the characteristics of products. The development of Level(s) has key players such as Saint Gobain and Knauf, which see in the reporting tool a key element for the international transformation of the market, adequately flexible to local specificities, and which will “test” the system in pilot cases: the former in several countries, the latter combining Level(s) with the DGNB certification.

The multisectoral contribution to Level(s) and to its testing, as well as through GBC, comes directly from first-rate players, among which we mention those who presented experimental adoption plans. Among construction companies, Skansa (€ 15.4 billion of revenues in 2016) will be on the front line, with diversified applications consistent with programs that aim at maximum sustainability considering energy, emissions, materials, water. Crucial is the support from professionals, represented by ACE (Council of Architects of Europe), that, particularly in traditionally sensitive countries, actively face a transformation of the way professionals create value and the challenges of integrated planning.

To grasp the extent of Level(s)’ impact, the intervention of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should certainly be mentioned, which, thanks to Level(s), intends to bring quickly, from 33% (2016) to 40% (2020), the percentage of green projects financed.

The work continued with details on the application methods of the testing and on the guidelines for the various types of use, depending on the stakeholders and the application phases, from design to monitoring.

Finally, four parallel collaborative sessions dealt with the state of readiness in the various countries, the role of Level(s) for mainstream dissemination, the adoption in the public sector, the promotion of the system. We underline how clear and widespread is the awareness that Public Administrations now have a decisive tool: on the one hand for projects related to their own building stock (new and existing), on the other to promote policies for the sustainability of buildings for private projects. In the next issue we will cover Level(s)’ technical contents. Stay tuned!

If you would like to know more about how to adhere to the testing of Level(s) you can register your interest at EU Survey  or contact CRISCON for in-depth information.

This post is also available in: Italian