Sustainability Assessment

Level(s) sustainability assessment framework

In brief

Level(s) is a voluntary building assessment framework developed by the European Commission to improve the sustainability of buildings. Using existing standards, Level(s) provides a common EU approach to the assessment of environmental performance in the built environment.

The framework provides a core set of indicators that anyone interested in assessing a building project can use – including for public procurement and commercial schemes. The framework is based on six macro-objectives, for each of which indicators are specified:

  1. Greenhouse gas along the life cycle, including energy consumption in use and Global Warming Potential embedded
  2. resource efficient materials life cycle,
  3. circular use of water resources,
  4. healthy and comfortable spaces,
  5. climate change resilience and adaptation, as impacting thermal comfort
  6. cost and value optimised over the whole life (life-cycle cost).

Our view

One important aspect for the cement and concrete industry is the fact that, in order for a building to be truly sustainable, a balance between social, economic and environmental measures needs to maintained over the whole life of the building. For this reason, assessment over a broad suite of indicators, at the building level, is the most appropriate approach, and thus is the one taken by CEN/TC 350. 

Three member-companies of CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association, have successfully completed the Level(s) pilot test. The buildings tested by CEMBUREAU’s members were a sustainable single-family housing development in Waterford, UK, by CRH; a social housing development in Saint-Nazaire, France, by LafargeHolcim; and the new HeidelbergCement headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. The piloting experience has demonstrated the strengths of Level(s), in that it is a transparent and fair system based on real life-cycle analysis (LCA), relying on existing standards such as those developed by CEN/TC 350. It can therefore be a powerful tool for optimising the whole life sustainability performance of buildings.

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