Level(s) sustainability assessment framework
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:
- Greenhouse gas along the life cycle, including energy consumption in use and Global Warming Potential embedded
- resource efficient materials life cycle,
- circular use of water resources,
- healthy and comfortable spaces,
- climate change resilience and adaptation, as impacting thermal comfort
- cost and value optimised over the whole life (life-cycle cost).
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.