Analysis of sustainable building rating systems in relation to CEN/TC 350 standards

Análisis de sistemas de valoración de la sostenibilidad en la edificación en relación con la norma CEN/TC 350

 

P. Huedo Dorda

Dr. in Architecture, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana (Spain)

e-mail: huedo@uji.es

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7327-9661

B. López-Mesa

Dr. in Architecture, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza (Spain)

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1458-7685

E. Mulet

Dr. in Industrial Engineering, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana (Spain)

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4903-1273

 

ABSTRACT

Numerous sustainability rating systems have been developed in the building sector. In this paper we distinguish between those whose aim is to allow companies striving for improved performance to gain an objective basis for communicating their efforts, such as LEED, and those that aim to communicate the life cycle environmental impact of goods, such as ATHENA Impact Estimator. We name the former effort-driven assessment and the latter data-driven assessment. This work undertakes a state-of-the-art review of all these assessment systems and assesses their effectiveness comparing the indicators used for assessment against the established standards by the Technical Committee (TC) 350 of the European Committee for standardization (CEN/TC 350). About 62% of the social and economic indicators remain unconsidered by the existing data-driven assessment tools, whereas effort-driven assessment tools have a higher consideration of social and economic aspects, with about half of the indicators unconsidered.

 

RESUMEN

En el sector de la construcción se han desarrollado numerosos sistemas de calificación de sostenibilidad. En este documento distinguimos entre aquellos que pretenden que las empresas que luchan por mejorar su sostenibilidad obtengan una base objetiva para comunicar sus esfuerzos, como LEED, y aquellos que evalúan el impacto medioambiental de los productos durante el ciclo de vida, como ATHENA Impact Estimador. Denominamos a los primeros, sistemas de evaluación basada en el esfuerzo y a los segundos, sistemas de evaluación basada en datos. Este trabajo revisa el estado del arte de estos sistemas y evalúa su efectividad comparando los indicadores utilizados con los estándares establecidos por el the Technical Committee (TC) 350 of the European Committee for standardization (CEN). Observamos que un 62% de los indicadores sociales y económicos propuestos por el CEN/TC 350 no son considerados por los sistemas de evaluación basados en datos mientras que los sistemas de evaluación basados en el esfuerzo tienen en cuenta aproximadamente la mitad de estos indicadores.

 

Recibido: 05/03/2018; Aceptado: 28/02/2019; Publicado on-line: 10/12/2019

Citation / Cómo citar este artículo: Huedo Dorda, P.; López-Mesa, B.; Mulet, E. (2019). Analysis of sustainable building rating systems in relation to CEN/TC 350 standards. Informes de la Construcción, 71(556): e321. https://doi.org/10.3989/ic.63707

Keywords: Sustainability building rating systems; sustainability indicators; standards CEN/TC 350.

Palabras clave: Sistemas valoración sostenibilidad edificación; indicadores; estándares CEN/TC 350.

Copyright: © 2019 CSIC. Este es un artículo de acceso abierto distribuido bajo los términos de la licencia de uso y distribución Creative Commons Reconocimiento 4.0 Internacional (CC BY 4.0).


 

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

RESUMEN

INTRODUCTION

METHODOLOGY

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. INTRODUCTIONTop

Buildings in their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing and demolition phases strongly impact the environment. Increasing awareness of the influence that the building sector has on the environment and its implications for humans has fostered the desire to measure the performance of buildings to help sustainable decision making. Sustainability rating systems are a means to deliver objective measures of a building’s impact on ecosystems and human health and to assess progress towards sustainable development. Discussion on sustainability in the building sector has gained international recognition. Green Building Council (GBC), for example, has organised several major international conferences that have greatly contributed to develop sustainable building (1). The selection and weight of indicators is a key issue in numerous initiatives on measuring buildings’ sustainability as this subject continues to be constantly discussed (2).

In 1992, the first certification system for building sustainability evaluation was created in the United Kingdom, by the official research institute BRE (Building Research Establishment). Since then, numerous systems have been developed that address the product (material) and/or building level. At the building level, there are numerous formal sustainability rating systems with a comprehensive perspective (3) in worldwide use today, of which LEED (2014) and BREEAM (2014) are the best known (4), (5), (6), (7). In this paper they are called CBEA (Comprehensive Building Environmental Assessment). There are also many tools, such as the ATHENA Impact Estimator for Buildings (2015), which provide a cradle-to-grave life cycle inventory profile for a whole building. Herein they are known as BSIS (Building Sustainability Indicator System).

For constructions products there are declaration systems that aim to communicate the life cycle environmental impact of goods, the Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) of construction products (ISO 21930: 2017, ISO 14025:2006), and voluntary programmes that promote environmentally sound products by awarding them a distinctive symbol of environmental quality, namely Environmental Labels - Type I (ISO 14024:2018).

The primary role of CBEA and Environmental Labels is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the environmental characteristics of buildings or products that allows developers or manufacturing companies striving for improved performance to gain an objective basis for calculating their efforts. The main objective of the EPD of construction products, the BSIS and the LCIA methods is to measure energy and mass flows to assess progress towards sustainability. Assessments are effort-driven in the first group of tools, and the distinctive symbol is obtained provided that the product or building fulfils certain criteria. In the second group of tools assessments are data-driven and based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology (Table 1).

Table 1. Types of assessment of the different sustainability rating systems.

Whole building Construction products
Effort-driven assessment CBEA (LEED, BREEAM, etc.) Environmental labels – type 1
Data-driven assessment BSIS (ATHENA Impact Estimator for Buildings, etc.) EPD of construction products
Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA)

Kajikawa et al. (8) pointed out that a challenge in CBEA systems is to include more powerful analytical and design tools capable of integrating diverse knowledge and tools such as LCAs, life cycle cost accounting, computer-aided design, materials and inventory databases, etc., to offer credible and salient solutions.

The distinction between effort-driven and data-driven assessment approaches reveals that whereas in the former the importance is given to place a building’s or product’s performance on a relative scale (the best assessed should be those making greater efforts), in the latter the importance is given to obtain an absolute value and the methodology to do so is often under consideration. Whereas effort-driven assessment has largely spread throughout the professional world due to its higher ease of use, data-driven assessment is a matter of continuous discussion in the scientific world. One of the challenges nowadays is how to integrate these two models.

More recently in order to find a common European approach, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN/TC 350) has developed two types of standards for the sustainability assessment of buildings (EN 15643-2:2011 and EN 15978:2011) and for the sustainability assessment of construction products (CEN/TR 15941:2010, EN 15942:2011, EN 15804:2012+A1:2013).

The standard for buildings provides specific principles and requirements to assess the environmental performance of buildings by taking into account the technical characteristics and functionality of a building. The calculation method is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

With construction products, environmental product declarations (EPD) are, according to Standard ISO 14020, Type III Environmental Labels, which are voluntary in nature, and present information about the environmental behaviour of products based on LCAs, which fulfil both ISO 14040 and 14044, they must be verified independently and be in accordance with agreed guidelines.

This work undertakes a state-of-the-art review of all the building assessment systems and assesses their effectiveness comparing the indicators used for assessment against the recently established standards by the CEN for sustainability assessment indicators in the building sector, what is of interest in order to achieve harmonisation in sustainability building assessments and in environmental declarations of construction products.

Unlike other studies that have already been conducted and have compared different assessment systems, this article centres on the effectiveness of those systems considered according to the recommendations made by the CEN in terms of indicators.

2. METHODOLOGYTop

This article has followed the steps shown in Figure 1, further explained next:

  • In the first place, the standards published by the CEN were analysed.
  • Secondly, the data-driven assessments more widely used in different countries were selected, classified and cross-sectional studied. Then a comparative study of the indicators considered by these methods with the indicators recommended by the CEN was conducted.
  • Thirdly, internationally recognised effort-driven assessments were selected, classified and cross-sectional studied. Finally, a comparison was made of the indicators considered by these assessment systems with the indicators recommended by the CEN.

Figure 1. Proportion of the indicators suggested by CEN considered as Endpoint type impacts in different LCIA tools.

Sustainability indicators proposed by the CEN for buildings and products

The International Standards Organization (ISO) defines a standard as: ‘a document, established by consensus, approved by a recognized body that provides for common and repeated use as rules, guidelines, or characteristics for activities or their results.’ The Technical Committee (TC) 350 of the CEN, named ‘Sustainability of Construction Works’, has developed voluntary horizontal standardised methods to assess the sustainability aspects of new and existing construction works, and for standards for the environmental declaration of construction products (table 2).

Table 2. Standards developed by CEN/TC 350 on the sustainability of construction works.

Scope Published standards
Sustainability assessment of buildings EN 15643-1:2010
Sustainability of construction works - Sustainability assessment of buildings - Part 1: General framework
EN 15643-2:2011
Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of buildings - Part 2: Framework for the assessment of environmental performance
EN 15643-3:2012
Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of buildings - Part 3: Framework for the assessment of social performance
EN 15643-4:2012
Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of buildings - Part 4: Framework for the assessment of economic performance
EN 15978:20111
Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation method
EN 16309:2014+A1:2014
Sustainability of construction works - Assessment of social performance of buildings - Calculation methodology
ISO/TS 21929-1.2009 –Sustainability in the construction of buildings - Sustainability Indicators. Part 1: Framework to develop indicators for building
Environmental product declarations CEN/TR 15941:2010
Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Methodology for selection and use of generic data
EN 15804:2012+A1:20132
Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Core rules for the product category of construction products
EN 15942:2011
Sustainability of construction works - Environmental product declarations - Communication format business-to-business

[1] EN 15978 is going to be revised.

[2] EN 15804 is under revision.


It is worth mentioning the existence of another standard published by the International Organisation for Standardisation, named ISO/TS 21929-1.2009 –Sustainability in the construction of buildings - Sustainability Indicators. Part 1: Framework

It is worth mentioning the existence of another standard published by the International Organisation for Standardisation, named ISO/TS 21929-1.2009 –Sustainability in the construction of buildings - Sustainability Indicators. Part 1: Framework to develop indicators for buildings.

All these standards identify the environmental indicators in Table 3 for the assessment of buildings. They reveal the importance of using a system of Sustainability Indicators for the sustainable certification of a project, for decision making, and for indicators to be internationally comparable. Even if this paper focuses on the assessment of buildings sustainability, it is of interest to note that the indicators suggested by the CENT/TC 350 for environmental product declarations are the same.

Table 3. The environmental indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 for buildings and products.

Units Scope
Building Product
Indicators describing environmental impacts
Global warming potential, GWP kg Eq CO2, 100 years
Stratospheric ozone layer depletion potential, ODP kg Eq CFC-11
Acidification potential of soil and water, AP kg Eq SO2
Eutrophication potential, EP kg Eq (PO4)3
Formation potential of tropospheric ozone, POCP kg Eq C2H4
Abiotic depletion potential for non-fossil resources, ADP-elements kg Eq Sb
Abiotic depletion potential for fossil fuels MJ, net calorie value
Indicators describing resources use
Use of renewable primary energyexcluding renovable primary energy resources used as raw materials, PERE MJ, net calorific value
Use of renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials, PERM MJ, net calorific value
Total use of renewable primary energy resources, PERT MJ, net calorific value
Use of non-renewable primary energy excluding no-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials, PENRE MJ, net calorific value
Use of non-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials, PENRM MJ, net calorific value
Total use of non-renewable primary energy resources, PENRT MJ, net calorific value
Use of secondary materials kg
Use of renewable secondary fuels, RSF MJ, net calorificvalue
Use of non-renewable secondary fuels, NRSF MJ, net calorie value
Use of fresh water, FW m3
Indicators describing complementary environmental information
Hazardous waste, HWD kg
Non-hazardous waste, NHWD kg
Radioactive waste disposed (total low, intermediate and high level waste), RWD kg
Radioactive waste (level waste), RWD kg

The World Commission on Environment and Development`s definition of sustainability (9) states that development must simultaneously consider the environmental, economic and social dimensions, which is a holistic and interdisciplinary approach (10), (11), (12), (13) suggested that environmental sustainable development objectives should be acknowledged and addressed in interventions designed to address social and economic priorities. (14) stated that the green building approach should consider three dimensions: environmental, social, and economical. Therefore, the assessments must take these three dimensions into account. In this way, a sustainable idea also expresses the interconnected nature of these three areas and leads to an economically feasible, socially viable and environmentally responsible project outcome (15), (16).

Within the social frame, Standard EN 15643-3:2012 establishes some generic categories of indicators completed with calculation methods. The intention of this Standard is for the assessment results to be compared between different countries by focusing on the social behaviour of both new buildings in their entire life cycle and existing buildings for their remaining useful life.

The social categories included to describe a building’s social behaviour are provided in Table 4.

Table 4. The social indicators suggested by UNE-EN 15643-3:2012.

Social Indicators Suggested impact categories
Accessibility Access for people with specific needs, access to certain building services
Adaptability Capacity to be adapted to a given user’s requirements
Capacity to be adapted to a change in users’ requirements
Capacity to be adapted to technical changes
Capacity to be adapted to use changes.
Health and comfort Sound characteristics
Quality of indoor air
Visual comfort
Thermal comfort
Water quality
Electromagnetic characteristics
Spatial characteristics
Burdens on neighbours Noise
Emissions to the atmosphere, land and water,
Glare and overshading
Impacts and vibrations
Effects of wind
Maintenance Maintenance operations (including health and confort issuesfor users and neighbours)
Security Resistance to climate change (rain, wind, snow, floods, solar radiation, temperature)
Resistance to accidental situations (Earthquakes, explosions, fire, traffic impacts)
Security against vandalism and intruders
Security against interruptions in supplies
Origin of materials and services Responsible and traceable origin of assets and services
Implication of stakeholders Opportunities for the stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes

Assessing social behaviour differs from economic or environmental assessments in that it requires an approach that is both quantitative and qualitative. When it is not possible to obtain quantitative results, checklists are typically used.

Within the economic frame, Standard EN 15643-4 : uses economic indicators to measure economic flows, such as investment, design, construction, making products, use, energy use, water use, waste, maintenance, deconstruction, developing the project’s economic value, the income made by the project and its services, etc. The economic indicators included to describe a building’s economic flows are shown in Table 5.

Table 5. The economic indicators suggested by UNE-EN 15643-3:2012.

Economic Indicators Impact Categories
Cost Investment cost
Explotation and maintenance cost
Demolition and waste management cost
Financial value Investment financial cost
Exploitation and maintenance financial cost
Demolition and waste management financial cost
Ratio between market value and capital cost Ratio between market value and capital cost at the building work completion
Verification of value versus future stability of economic value Value versus future stability of economic value by undertaking analysis of financial scenarios and/or Monte-Carlo simulation, or alternatively techniques of clasiffication of ownership
Economic risk Stability of economic value by undertaking analysis of financial scenarios and/or Monte-Carlo simulation, or alternatively techniques of clasiffication of ownership
External costs External costs
Results economic aspects Economic aspects relating to energy efficiency level (relative to a high energy cost)
Economic aspects relating to adaptability to use or users’ requirements changes
Economic aspects relating to intrinsic risks in localisation
Economic aspects relating to accessibility
Economic aspects relating to spatial efficiency

Next, the internationally recognised sustainability evaluation systems were selected, classified and cross-sectional studied by considering both effort-driven and data-driven assessments, and then checking if these indicators are included by data-driven and effort-driven methods, or not.

Data-driven sustainability assessment: the scientific method

Data-driven assessment tools are based on LCA, a methodology to assess the environmental impact of a given product or building throughout its lifespan. The term ‘life cycle’ refers to the notion that it must be holistic for a fair assessment; i.e. all phases need to be assessed, including raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal, as well as all the intervening transportation steps.

LCA procedures are described in ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006 as part of the ISO 14000 environmental management standards. According to ISO 14044, the main phases of a LCA are: Goal & Scope; Inventory Analysis; Impact Assessment; and Interpretation.

The first impact assessment step consists of drawing up an inventory list of all the input and output environmental flows of a product system. However, as a long list of substances is difficult to interpret, a further step is needed in impact assessments, known as a life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). An LCIA consists of 4 steps:

  • Classification: all the substances are sorted into classes according to the effect that they have on the environment.
  • Characterisation: all the substances are multiplied by a factor that reflects their relative contribution to an environmental impact.
  • Normalisation (optional step): the quantified impact is compared to a certain reference value; e.g., the average environmental impact of a European citizen in 1 year.
  • Weighting (optional step): different value choices are given to the impact categories to generate a single score.

According to this information, the impact categories can be used as indicators.

Effects on the environment considered by the different methods to conduct LCIA

For each substance, a schematic cause-effect chain needs to be developed that describes the environmental mechanism of the emitted substance. During this environmental mechanism, an impact category indicator result can be chosen at either the midpoint or the endpoint level.

Midpoints are considered to be links in the cause-effect chain of an impact category, prior to endpoints. Midpoint methods (CML 92, CML2001 version Baseline, EDIP 2003, EPD 2007, TRACI 2) are problem-oriented and translate impacts into environmental themes, such as ozone depletion, global warming and smog creation. Some methodologies (EPS 2000, Eco-indicador 95, Eco-indicador 99, IMPACT 2002+, IPCC 2001 GWP) have adopted characterisation factors at an endpoint level in the cause-effect chain. This is a damage-oriented approach that translates environmental impacts into issues of concern, such as human health in terms of disability adjusted life years for carcinogenicity or impacts in terms of changes in biodiversity (17). Endpoint results have a higher level of uncertainty compared to midpoint results, but are easier to understand by decision makers. Table 6 classifies the Endpoint-type impacts with the indicators considered by CEN/TC 350, and indicates which impact assessment methods (LCIA) evaluated them. Figure 1 shows the percentage of CEN suggested indicators considered in each LCIA tool.

Table 6. Comparison of the indicators considered by CEN and the endpoint effects considered by different methods for LCIA.

Environmental indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 ENDPOINT-TYPE effects Damage category IMPACT ASSESSMENT METHODS
CML 92 CML 2011 EDIP 2003 EPD 2007 TRACI 2 EPS 2000 INDICATOR 95 INDICATOR 99 IMPACT 2002 IPCC 2001
Indicators describing environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), kg.Eq.CO2 Climate change 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Stratospheric ozone depletion potential (ODP) Damage to ecosystem 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Acidification potential, kg SO2 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Eutrophication potential, kg PO4 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Photochemical smog potential, kg C2H4 eq. 1 1 1 1 1
Abiotic depletion potential for non-fossil resources, ADP-elements
Abiotic depletion potential for fossil resources, ADP-fossil fuels
Indicators describing resources use Use of renewable primary energy excluding renovable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERE. MJ, net calorific value Damage to using resources
Use of renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERM. MJ, net calorific value
Total use of renewable primary energy resources ,PERT. MJ, net calorific value
Total use of renewable primary energy resources ,PERT. MJ, net calorific value
Use of non-renewable primary energy excluding no-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials , PENRT. MJ, net calorific value
Total use of non-renewable primary energy resources ,PENRT. M.J, net calorific value
Use of secondary materials kg 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of non- renewable secondary fuels, RSFS, MJ, net calorific value 1 1
Use of renewable secondary fuels, RSF MJ, net calorific value 1 1
Use of fresh water, m3 1
Indicators describing complementary environmental information Hazardous waste, kg
Non-hazardous waste, kg
Radioactive waste, kg 1
Total no. of coincidences 8 8 6 6 7 0 1 5 5 1
40% 40% 30% 30% 35% 0% 5% 25% 25% 5%
Social Indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 ENDPOINT-TYPE effects Damage category
Accessibility For people with specific needs
Adaptability To a change in users’ requirements
To technical changes
To use changes
Health and comfort Sound characteristics
Quality of indoor air
Visual comfort
Thermal comfort
Water quality
Electromagnetic characteristics
Spatial characteristics
Damage to health* 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1
Burdens on neighbours Noise
Emissions to the atmosphere, land, water Damage to using resources 1 1 1 1
Glare and overshading
Impacts and vibrations
Effects of wind
Maintenance Maintenance operations (including health and confort issues for users and neighbours)
Security Resistance to climate change (rain, wind, snow, floods, solar radiation, temperature)
Resistence to accidental situations (Earthquakes, explosions, fire, traffic impacts)
Security against vandalism and intruders
Security against interruptions in supplies
Security against interruptions in supplies
Origin of materials and services Responsible and traceable origin of assets and services
Implication of stakeholders Opportunities for the stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes
Total no. of coincidences 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 0 2 0
8% 8% 8% 4% 4% 4% 4% 0% 8% 0%
Cost Investment cost
Explotation and maintenance cost
Demolition and waste management cost
Financial value Investment fiancial cost
Explotation and maintenance l cost
Demolition and waste management cost
Ratio between market value and capital cost Ratio between market value and capital cost at the building work completion
Verification of value versus future stability of economic value Value versus future stability of economic value or alternatively techniques of clasification of ownership
Economic risk Stability of economic value by undertaking analysis of financial scenarios clasification of ownership
External costs External costs
Results economic aspects Energy efficiency level (relative to a high energy cost)
Adaptability to use or users’ requirements
Intrinsic risks in localisation
Accessibility
Spatial efficiency
Total number of coincidences 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

[*] Damage to health indicators assess mainly the effects related to the human toxicity resulting from direct exposure to chemicals. Health effects caused by other mechanisms of action (e.g. impacts from fine particles, from noise, etc.) are not included.


As can be seen, tools with a higher proportion of CEN indicators implemented as Endpoint impacts are CML92 and CML2011, with the 40% of the environmental indicators (climate change, damage to ecosystem and damage to using resources) and the 8% of the social indicators (damage to health and emissions to the atmosphere, land and water). TRACI2 include the same but without the emissions to the atmosphere, land and water and use of secondary fuels. The other tools include even less than these do. None of them includes economic indicators.

Table 7 classifies the Midpoint-type impacts compared to the indicators considered by CEN/TC 350 by indicating which impact assessment methods (LCIA) evaluate them. Figure 2 depicts the percentage of CEN indicators considered in the Midpoint-type impacts.

Table 7. Comparison of the indicators considered by CEN and the Midpoint effects contemplated by different methods for LCIA.

Environmental indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 MIDPOINT-TYPE EFFECTS IMPACT ASSESSMENT METHODS
Damage category Damage subcategory CML 92 CML 2011 EDIP 2003 EPD 2007 TRACI 2 EPS 2000 INDICATOR 95 INDICATOR 99 IMPACT 2002 IPCC 2001
Indicators describing environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), kg.Eq.CO2 Global Warming Potential (GWP), kg.Eq.CO2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Stratospheric ozone depletion potential (ODP) Stratospheric ozone depletion potential (ODP) 1 1 1 1 1 1
Acidification potential, kg SO2 eq. Acidification potential, kg SO2 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Eutrophication potential, kg PO4 eq. Eutrophication potential, kg PO4 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Photochemical smog potential, kg C2H4 eq. Photochemical smog potential, kg C2H4 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Abiotic depletion potential for non-fossil resources, ADP-elements Abiotic depletion potential for resources 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Abiotic depletion potential for fossil resources, ADP-fossil fuels
Indicators describing resources use Use of renewable primary energy excluding renovable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERE. MJ, net calorific value Use of abiotic resources, kg eq. Use of renewable primary energy, MJ
Use of renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERM. MJ, net calorific value
Total use of renewable primary energy resources ,PERT. MJ, net calorific value
Total use of renewable primary energy resources ,PERT. MJ, net calorific value
Use of non-renewable primary energy excluding no-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials , PENRT. MJ, net calorific value Use of non-renewable primary energy, MJ 1 1
Total use of non-renewable primary energy resources ,PENRT. M.J, net calorific value
Use of secondary materials kg Use of metals and minerals,kg 1 1 1 1 1
Use of non- renewable secondary fuels, RSFS, MJ, net calorific value Use of non renewable fuels, MJ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of renewable secondary fuels, RSF MJ, net calorific value Use of renewable fuels, MJ
Use of fresh water, m3 Use of fresh water
Indicators describing complementary environmental information Hazardous waste, kg Waste kg Hazardous waste, kg 1
Non-hazardous waste, kg Non-hazardous waste, kg 1
Radioactive waste, kg Radioactive waste, kg 1
Total no. of coincidences 9 8 9 7 7 0 2 8 8 1
45% 40% 45% 35% 35% 0% 10% 40% 40% 5%
Social Indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 Damage category Damage subcategory
Accessibility For people with specific needs
Adaptability To a change in users’ requirements
To technical changes
To use changes
Health and comfort Sound characteristics
Quality of indoor air
Visual comfort
Thermal comfort
Water quality
Electromagnetic characteristics
Spatial characteristics
Burdens on neighbours Noise
Emissions to the atmosphere, land, water Toxicity Emissions to the atmosphere, land, water 1 1 1 1
Glare and overshading
Impacts and vibrations
Effects of wind
Maintenance Maintenance operations (including health and confort issues for users and neighbours)
Security Resistance to climate change (rain, wind, snow, floods, solar radiation, temperature)
Resistence to accidental situations (Earthquakes, explosions, fire, traffic impacts)
Security against vandalism and intruders
Security against interruptions in supplies
Security against interruptions in supplies
Origin of materials and services Responsible and traceable origin of assets and services
Implication of stakeholders Opportunities for the stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes
Total no. of coincidences 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
4% 4% 4% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 4% 0%
Economic Indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 ENDPOINT-TYPE effects Damage category
Cost Investment cost
Explotation and maintenance cost
Demolition and waste management cost
Financial value Investment fiancial cost
Explotation and maintenance l cost
Demolition and waste management cost
Ratio between market value and capital cost Ratio between market value and capital cost at the building work completion
Verification of value versus future stability of economic value Value versus future stability of economic value or alternatively techniques of clasification of ownership
Economic risk Stability of economic value by undertaking analysis of financial scenarios clasification of ownership
External costs External costs
Results economic aspects Energy efficiency level (relative to a high energy cost)
Adaptability to use or users’ requirements
Intrinsic risks in localisation
Accessibility
Spatial efficiency
Total number of coincidences 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

Figure 2. Proportion of the indicators suggested by CEN considered as Midpoint type impacts in different LCIA tools.

Regarding the Midpoint level impacts, in general, LCIA tools applied a higher number of the CEN indicators. CML2 and EDIP 2003 are the most complete ones with the 45% of the environmental indicators and the 4% of the social ones. Only use of primary energy, use of materials, use of fuels and use of fresh water are not considered in EDIP2003. As can be seen in Table 7, some of the tools take into account the use of fuels and the use of metals and minerals although the overall number of indicators is lower than in EDIP. The only one social indicator considered in four LCIA tools is the emissions to the atmosphere, land and water. Again, economic indicators are not implemented in these tools.

Formulating indicators becomes a key element to assess sustainability. To this end, it is necessary to associate one impact or more with the indicator, which supplies a numerical value and its measurement unit (kWh/m2 year, kg CO2 eq./m2 year, l/person day). Indicators can derive from qualitative and quantitative measures, but they only become standardised and comparable when transformed numerically (18).

The sustainability indicators proposed in BSIS

Table 8 shows a list of LCA methodology-based tools developed in various organisations used exclusively to assess buildings or their components. These tools have been selected, because they can be used in the initial design phase, and allow the value of impacts to be obtained in real time by covering the different life cycle phases of buildings (19).

Table 8. Comparative frame. Tools based on LCA developed specifically to assess construction products, building systems or building, BSIS.

As previously mentioned, all the tools shown in Table 8 are based on LCA. However, most of these tools only consider impacts due to materials during the whole building life cycle, but do not consider the impacts due to the use of building installations during its service life.

Tables 9, 10 and 11 compare the indicators established by the CEN/TC 350 with the indicators considered by Data-driven assessments.

Table 9. Comparison of the environmental indicators considered by CEN and the environmental indicators considered by the BSIS(Building Sustainability Indicator Systems).

Environmental indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 Athena Impact Estimator Beat 2002 Be Cost BEES Eco Bat Eco Calculator Eco Effect Eco Quantum Eco Soft Ener BuiLCA ENVEST EQUER LCAid LEGEP LISA TCQ 2000
Indicators describing environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), kg.Eq.CO2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Stratospheric ozone depletion potential (ODP) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Acidification potential, kg SO2 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Eutrophication potential, kg PO4 eq. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Formation potential of tropospheric ozone,POCP kg Eq C2H4 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Abiotic depletion potential for non-fossil resources, ADP-elements
Abiotic depletion potential for fossil resources, ADP-fossil fuels
Indicators describing resources use Use of renewable primary energyexcluding renovable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERE. MJ, net calorific value
Use of renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERM. MJ, net calorific value
Total use of renewable primary energy resources ,PERT. MJ, net calorific value
Use of non-renewable primary energy excluding no-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PENRE
Use of non-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PENRM
Total use of non-renewable primary energy resources ,PENRT. M.J, net calorific value 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of secondary materials kg 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of renewable secondary fuels, RSFS, MJ, net calorific value
Use of non renewable secondary fuels, RSF MJ, net calorific value 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of fresh water, m3 1 1 1 1 1 1
Indicators describing complementary environmental information Hazardous waste, kg 1
Non-hazardous waste, kg 1 1 1
Radioactive waste disposed (total low, intermediate and high level waste), RWD, kg 1 1 1
Total no. of coincidences 6 8 2 7 7 4 8 4 5 2 7 7 5 3 1 7

Table 10. Comparison of the social indicators considered by CEN and the social indicators considered by the BSIS (Building Sustainability Indicator Systems).

Table 11. Comparison of the economic indicators considered by CEN and the Economic indicators considered by the BSIS (Building Sustainability Indicator Systems).

Economic Indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 Athena Impact Estimator Beat 2002 BeCost  BEES Eco-Bat Eco Calculator Eco Effect Eco Quantum EcoSoft Ener BuiLca ENVEST 2 EQUER LCAid LEGEP LISA TCQ 2000
Cost Investment cost 0 1 1 1
Explotation and maintenance cost 1 1 1 1 1
Demolition and waste management cost 1 1 1 1
Financial value Investment fiancial cost 1
Explotation and maintenance 1 cost 1
Demolition and waste management cost 1 1
Ratio between market value and capital cost Ratio between market value and capital cost at the building work completion
Verification of value versus future stability Value versus future stability of economic value of clasification of ownership
Economic risk Stability of economic value by undertaking analysis of financial scenarios
External costs External costs
Results economic aspects Energy efficiency level (relative to a high energy cost)
Adaptability to users’ requirements
Intrinsic risks in localisation
Accessibility
Spatial efficiency
Total number of coincidences 0 0 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 1 3 0

Figure 3 shows the percentage of CEN indicators considered in the data-driven assessment tools.

Figure 3. Proportion of the indicators suggested by CEN considered by the BSIS.

As can be seen, BSIS are fundamentally based on LCA impact assessments. Among them, the global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication, and photochemical smog potentials, as well as energy use, are the impacts mainly considered by effort-driven assessments.

The tools that best adapt to environmental indicators set by the CEN are Beat 2002, BEES, Eco-Bat, Envest2, LCAid and TCQ2000, with 7 or 8 coincidences with the indicators set by the CEN.

EQUER is the one with more social indicators, considering 4 from the 25 set by the CEN. Generally speaking, these tools barely consider social indicators, and only BEES, Eco-effect and Envest consider air quality matters, assessed from the social perspective. BeCost, BEES, Eco-Bat, Envest2 and LISA are the only methods, along with Eco-quantum, that include CEN economic indicators.

Effort-driven sustainability assessment: the pragmatic method

An existing study (20) discusses that comprehensiveness in CBEA methods affords benefits and limitations. The main benefit is the wide scope of the evaluation as different sustainable design perspectives are considered. CBEA systems usually use the existing regulations to set benchmarks or qualification minimums or quantify the number of data-driven assessment elements used in the project, such as EPD, to award points, or use the energy certification obtained with simulation software like Energy Plus to assess the behaviour in the use phase. The limits result from the mixture of quantitative and qualitative measures and the weighting outlines of those measures, when different perspectives are integrated into a single criterion.

Many methodologies have been developed to establish the degree of accomplishment of environmental goals by guiding the planning and design processes. In these earlier construction process stages, planners can make decisions to improve building performance at very little or no cost following the recommendations of the decision-making tool (21).

The first outlines to voluntarily adopt sustainability criteria in the design, construction and/or operation of buildings appeared in the UK, where the official Building Research Establishment has worked since 1992 to develop them. The first commercially available method was BREEAM (the BRE Environmental Assessment Method), which continues to be a national reference with more than 250,000 certificates. BREEAM has been adapted in Commonwealth countries (Green Leaf in Canada and Ireland, HK BEAM in Hong Kong, GreenStar in Australia and New Zealand, etc.), among others (BREEAM ES in Spain, BREEAM Gulf in the Persian Golf, etc.) (22).

In 1998, and based on BRE originally, the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) (23) launched a preliminary version of LEEDin the USA and adapted it as a commercial product in 2000. Later other reference methods appeared, supported by IISBE (International Initiative on Sustainable Built Environment) (24), on a more local scale and with a weaker impact on the real-estate market. The most outstanding ones are CASBEE in Japan, HQE in France (25, 26, 27), ITACA in Italy, MINERGIE in Swizerland, DGNB in Germany, NABERS in Australia, and VERDE in Spain backed by GBC (the Green Building Council, Spain) (28). Generally speaking, these methodologies are constantly being developed and adapted to new building developments and new technologies.

The 11 most representative sustainable assessment systems have been selected to now be applied to define their basic characteristics and to establish a comparative frame with them all. These systems can be grouped into three types according to the assessment method they employ (29):

Those based on assessing actions (Checklists), established with credits associated with points according to the relevance of the impacts related with the credit. This group comprises the systems LEED, BREEAM and DGNB.

Those based on impact assessments by analysing impacts by a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), such as CASBEE.

Those based on the assessment of the reduction of impacts by applying sustainability measures in the complete life cycle, such as: HQE (France), ITACA (Italy) and VERDE (Spain). LEED and HQE certifications recognise the life-cycle analysis, while other such as BREEAM opts for an overall cost approach Table 12 provides a comparative analysis to indicate, among other aspects, the origin, scope and extension, uses of buildings and assessment phases, employed methodology and assessed criteria. LEVEL is a new voluntary European framework developed by the European Commission, as a common EU framework for the sustainability that provides a set of indicators and common metrics for measuring the environmental performance of buildings along their life cycle (30).

Table 12. A comparison of the international sustainable certification systems for building (source: the authors, adapted on Rojo, 2014) (31).

As can be seen in Table 12, depending on the building type, the uses that can be assessed by 11 analysed systems are the collective residential type, offices and teaching equipment. With offices and education centres, only five systems have a specific assessment scheme that considers the characteristic aspects of these types.

Such a lack of systems that adapt to building types is a generalised matter in most methods which, despite being able to certify many kinds of uses, do not present assessment schemes that provide details of specific matters in each one, but do so with a common scheme. The most outstanding example of this is the MINERGIE system or the Canadian one, GREENGLOBES, where seven of the eight types that it certifies share the same scheme. HQE™ addresses to non-residential and residential buildings, and detached houses. Furthermore, a specific scheme for the management system of urban planning and development projects is also available.

In order to apply these systems to existing buildings, the 11 analysed systems assess new buildings and 10 of them analyse renovations. VERDE only offers a renovation assessment scheme for homes. HQE applies to residential, commercial, administrative and service buildings, whether in construction, refurbishment or in operation.

Regarding the possibility of obtaining results in the initial design phase, generally all the systems cover the first assessment in the design phase and in a later phase once the building has been constructed. Other building phases, like the operations and maintenance that buildings require throughout their life cycle or at the end of their lifespan, including demolition, are not included in 50% of the systems.

Table 12 shows that except for the MINERGIE system, which has its own standards, and CASBEE, which is based on eco-efficiency indicators, all the other procedures employ an impact assessment system by means of sustainability indicators divided into various categories.

BREEAM and GREENSTAR distribute the indicators into 10 and 9 categories, respectively, LEED and GREENGLOBES divide them into 7. In HQE, the environmental performance requirements are organised into four topics that together include 14 categories. Moreover, the HQE certification is different due to the introduction of requirements concerning comfort and health. LEVEL guides users from an initial focus on individual aspects of building performance towards a more holistic perspective. It consists of eight core indicators, complemented by six life cycle tools which include the option to make a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Tables 13, 14 and 15 and Figure 4 compare the CEN indicators considered by the Comprehensive Building Environmental Assessment (CBEA) systems.

Table 13. Comparison of the environmental indicators considered by CEN and the environmental indicators considered by the CBEA (Comprehensive Building Environmental Assessment) systems.

Environmental indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 LEED BREEAM VERDE CASBEE GBTool GREEN STAR GREEN GLOBES MINERGIE HQE DGNB ITACA LEVEL
Indicators describing environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), kg.Eq.CO2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Stratospheric ozone depletion potential (ODP) 1 1 1 1 1 1
Acidification potential, kg SO2 eq. 1 1 1 1 1
Eutrophication potential, kg PO4 eq. 1 1 1 1 1
Formation potential of tropospheric ozone,POCP kg Eq C2H4 1 1 1 1
Abiotic depletion potential for non-fossil resources, ADP-elements 1 1 1
Abiotic depletion potential for fossil resources, ADP-fossil fuels 1 1 1
Indicators describing resources use Use of renewable primary energy excluding renovable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERE. MJ, net calorific value 1 1 1
Use of renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PERM. MJ, net calorific value 1 1 1
Total use of renewable primary energy resources ,PERT. MJ, net calorific value 1 1 1
Use of non-renewable primary energy excluding no-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PENRE 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of non-renewable primary energy resources used as raw materials ,PENRM 1 1 1 1
Total use of non-renewable primary energy resources ,PENRT. M.J, net calorific value 1 1 1 1
Use of secondary materials kg 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of renewable secondary fuels, RSFS, MJ, net calorific value 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Use of non renewable secondary fuels, RSF MJ, net calorific value 1 1 1
Use of fresh water, m3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Indicators describing complementary environmental information Hazardous waste, kg 1 1 1 1 1
Non-hazardous waste, kg 1 1 1
Radioactive waste, kg 1 1 1 1
Total no. of coincidences 20 13 5 4 6 3 5 5 20 4 3 20
100% 65% 25% 20% 30% 15% 25% 25% 100% 20% 15% 100%

Table 14. Comparison of the social indicators considered by CEN and the social indicators considered by the CBEA (Comprehensive Building Environmental Assessment) systems.

Social Indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 LEED BREEAM VERDE CASBEE GBTool GREEN STAR GREEN GLOBES MINERGIE HQE DGNB ITACA LEVEL
Accessibility Accessibility
Adaptability For people with specific needs
To technical changes 1 1
To use changes 1
Health and comfort To use changes 1
Sound characteristics 1 1 1
Quality of indoor air 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Visual comfort 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Thermal comfort 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Water quality 1
Electromagnetic characteristics
Burdens on neighbours Spatial characteristics
Noise 1 1 1 1 1
Emissions to the atmosphere, land, water 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Glare and overshading
Impacts and vibrations
Effects of wind
Maintenance Maintenance operations (health and confor) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Security Resistance to climate change
Resistence to accidental situations 1 1 1
Security against vandalism and intruders
Security against interruptions in supplies
Origin of materials and services Security against interruptions in supplies
Implication of stakeholders Responsible and traceable origin of assets and services 1 1 1 1
Opportunities for the stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes 1
Total no. of coincidences 7 8 7 6 1 1 3 2 8 8 4 7
28% 32% 28% 24% 4% 4% 12% 8% 32% 32% 16% 28%

Table 15. Comparison of the economic indicators considered by CEN and the economic indicators considered by the CBEA (Comprehensive Building Environmental Assessment) systems.

Economic Indicators suggested by CEN/TC 350 LEED BREEAM VERDE CASBEE GBTool GREEN STAR GREEN GLOBES MINERGIE 1% DGNB ITACA LEVEL
Cost Investment cost 1 1 1 1
Explotation and maintenance cost 1 1 1 1 1
Financial value Demolition and waste management cost 1
Investment fiancial cost 1 1 1
Explotation and maintenance cost 1 1 1
Ratio between market value and capital cost Demolition and waste management cost 1 1
Verification of value versus future stability Ratio between market value and capital cost at the building work completion 1
Economic risk Value versus future stability of economic value of clasification of ownership 1
External costs Stability of economic value by undertaking analysis of financial scenarios
Results economic aspects External costs 1
Energy efficiency level (relative to a high energy cost) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Adaptability to users’ requirements 1 1
Intrinsic risks in localisation
Accessibility 1
Spatial efficiency
Total number of coincidences 3 4 4 2 0 0 0 1 1 6 1 10
20% 27% 27% 13% 0% 0% 0% 7% 7% 40% 7% 67%

Figure 4. Proportion of the indicators suggested by CEN considered by the CBEA.

3. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONSTop

According to Tables 13, 14 and 15 and to Figure 4, of all the systems that certify a building’s sustainability, LEVEL,LEED, BREEAM, VERDE, HQE and DGNB are the most complete systems as they have the most coincidences as regards the indicators set out by the CEN/TC350 . LEED, HQE and LEVEL covers all the environmental indicators whereas BREEAM covers the 65%.

Most coincidences come about when using raw materials. This indicator is considered by all the systems according to the categories ‘Indoor air quality’, ‘Energy’, along with the categories ‘Energy use’ and ‘Land ecology’, which are indicators included in 8 9 of the 11systems. Aspects like ‘Waste’ are dealt with by only half the systems.

Themes and categories are not accurate, are heterogeneous, and have fuzzy limits. For example, pollution indicators are mixed in the energy or indoor air quality categories.

BREEAM , HQE and DGNB are those with more social indicators (32%), followed by VERDE, LEVEL and LEED (28%). Security category is not implemented in any of the analysed systems. LEVEL uses the 67% of the economic indicators, followed by DGNB with the 40%. In the opposite, GBTool, GREEN STAR and GREEN GLOBES do not include any economic indicator. However, like other systems, they will have to cover socio-economic aspects more profoundly.

From the conducted study, it can be observed that of the three sustainable development pillars, all the analysed systems focus basically on weighting environmental criteria and consider to a much lesser extent the social and economic aspects.

About 97% of the social and economic indicators remain unconsidered by the studied data-driven LCIA methods, and about 64 % of them are unconsidered by the studied data-driven BSIS. Effort-driven assessment tools have a higher consideration of these social and economic aspects, as this type of assessment has a more comprehensive nature. However, there is still about half of the proposed economic indicators by the CEN unconsidered by the CBEA methods. Only one of the studied assessment tools consider accessibility criteria, which is a relevant social sustainability aspect. Adaptability, security and implication of stakeholders are other social types of indicators with a low level of development in the studied tools. Regarding the economic types of indicators suggested by the CEN/TC 350, it is worth noticing that only LEVEL includes criteria to assess the ratio between market value and capital cost, the value versus future stability, the economic risk, or the external costs.

With regard to the environmental pillar, most data-driven assessment methods consider criteria that describe environmental impacts, such as the global warming potential, the stratospheric ozone layer depletion potential, the acidification potential, the eutrophication potential and ecotoxicity. For emissions, a consensus has been reached by the implied agents, considering the global warming potential as well as emissions of other gases (sulphur oxides, SOx, nitrogen oxides, NOx, methane, CH4, etc.) as the most representative indicator when it comes to assessing the environmental quality of buildings. However, environmental impacts indicators are not so developed in the effort-driven tools, and therefore there is an opportunity of integration of the two types of tools in this regard.

It must be noticed that the less developed type of environmental indicator, in both data-driven and effort-driven sustainability assessment tools, is the one describing complementary environmental information related to waste.

In conclusion, social and economic indicators require further development in the existing sustainability assessment systems of buildings, and environmental indicators require improvement, especially regarding waste criteria, and the integration of indicators describing environmental impacts –well developed in data-driven methods– into effort-driven methods.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSTop

This work has been carried out as part of the research project ‘Integrated design protocol for social housing retrofit and urban regeneration’ (BIA2013-44001-R) in the Spanish Research, Development and Innovation Programme ‘Society’s Challenges’, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

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