Table of Contents
1. What is the Level(s) framework?
2. Level(s) Objectives
3. What do the Level(s) indicators cover?
4. Who is Level(s) for and on which types of buildings?
5. Why use the Level(s) framework?
6. What’s next for Level(s)?
7. Interested in Piloting Level(s)?
1. What is the Level(s) framework?
Level(s) has been developed by the European Commission in collaboration with a large and diverse set of building stakeholders1 including European Green Building Councils, as a tool for designing and constructing sustainable buildings. It is a voluntary reporting framework with the aim to improve the sustainability of buildings.
Expertise provided by the WorldGBC has significantly helped the European Commission in moving closer to achieving circular economy goals in the building sector. I am confident that with further help of Green Building Councils across Europe we can turn our ambitious plans into a reality.
Sustainable buildings have many benefits, one for example is that they are resource efficient whereby they use less energy and materials throughout the entire design and construction phases. In addition, such buildings are healthier and more comfortable spaces for occupants. As a result, sustainable buildings tend to have low running costs and become more valuable properties in the long term.
The framework outlines several indicators to measure the environmental performance of buildings throughout the distinct phases of its life cycle. The idea of these metrics is to provide a manageable number of essential concepts at building level that contribute to achieving EU environmental policy targets. While the key focus of these indicators is the environmental performance it also provides outlines for other important aspects of building performance (e.g health and wellbeing and, life cycle cost). Level(s) also wants to promote life cycle thinking. Aiming for the user to have a holistic perspective of building performance.
Currently there are several certification schemes for Green Building, what makes Level(s) different is that it is a non-commercial voluntary framework to measure, report, and share the environmental performance of buildings. Certification tools including BREEAM (UK/NL/Spain/Norway/Sweden/Germany/International), HPI (Ireland), HQE (France) and Verde (Spain) support the development of Level(s), and all have stated their intention to explore alignment between their schemes and Level(s). This will ensure all schemes are aligned with common EU policy objectives. DGNB (Germany) has already completed this process.
The primary objective of Level(s) is to help construction and real estate stakeholders through the provision of a reporting framework to reduce the environmental impacts of the buildings they invest in, design, build and occupy. Other objectives include:
- Encourage the ‘mainstream’ market to incorporate sustainability.
- Create greater awareness and demand for sustainable buildings.
- Encourage public authorities to start thinking about using Level(s) when developing their policy initiatives, so European policy in this field is well-aligned.
- Support communication across the value chain of a building.
- Create more comparable performance data (beyond energy use).
Each indicator within the framework is designed to link the individual building’s impact with the priorities for sustainability at the European level. There are 14 indicators covering six areas of sustainability. Every project will be different so its recommend to pick the most relevant indicators.
These priorities (macro-objectives) are:
- Greenhouse gas emissions throughout the building’s life cycle
- Resource efficient and circular material life cycles
- Efficient use of water resources
- Healthy and comfortable spaces
- Adaptation and resilience to climate change
- Life cycle cost and value
For each indicator, a ‘graduated’ approach is possible, enabling users to move from simple through to more complex and precise calculation methods and extended reporting.
More information can be found on the official guidance document below.
Level(s) is for building professionals and their clients to increase their understanding of how buildings impact upon the environment.
Examples include property owners, developers and investors, design teams, construction product manufacturer, managers and contractors, property agents and valuers.
Currently office and residential buildings are within the remit of the Level(s) framework, covering new buildings and major renovations.
Buildings have a significant role addressing issues such as efficient resource consumption and sustainability. The Level(s) toolkit wants to assist in bringing sustainability to all aspects of buildings. Such tools will help Ireland in its efforts to work towards the UN’s sustainable development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.
Those testing Level(s) will be marking themselves as frontrunners, taking a key role in shaping and informing the development of Europe’s first pan-regional policy that considers the whole life cycle of a buildings environmental performance. In addition to this, the participants can be assured that their buildings are inline with global and regional priorities, when it comes to resource efficiency and climate targets for example. Furthermore, participants will be rewarded by the new environmental, economic and health benefits of their sustainable building.
Level(s) provides users with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in emerging policy areas such as Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC). Benefits of such policy knowledge include improving business development acumen and understanding of green building tools.
A testing phase for Level(s) was launched by the Commission that will last two years, ending in March 2020. The European Commission will provide technical support during this process.
The purpose of the testing phase is to examine the current readiness of the toolkit and understand how it will perform when released to mass market. This phase will also highlight any challenges and allow opportunities for support measures to be implemented to ensure the success of the framework.
If you have a project and are interested in Level(s), we would recommend that you review the testing protocol documentation. This aims to provide those interested in the toolkit with guidance on each of the steps involved in testing Level(s). Upon completion of the testing protocol you’ll be able to determine if Level(s) is suitable for the project.
If you are in a position to participate in the testing phase, those who want to test Level(s) on a building can register their project here.
Interested in learning more or how you can participate?