Last year, the European Commission introduced Level(s) a new framework of indicators to report on the sustainability performance of buildings. The Commission has now officially launched the two year testing phase for Level(s). This testing phase aims to support stakeholders across a buildings value chain, from designers though to facility managers; in testing the Level(s) indicators on their building projects.
The testing phase will last for two years and the Commission hope the feedback from the testing phase will help them determine the suitability of the indicators for the mass market. In launching the testing phase, the Commission has published a registration site where testers must register the project on which they intend to test Level(s).
In addition to this registration site, the Commission has published a series of guidance documents aimed at supporting testers of Level(s) throughout the testing period. These documents cover topics from the general ‘What is Level(s)?’ to more detailed technical guidance.
Level(s) is described as an “open source assessment framework” – in simpler terms, a tool, which can be used by those involved in buildings (such as planners, architects, developers and occupiers) to measure the sustainability performance of them.
What makes Level(s) different is that for the first time it provides a framework for measurement that goes beyond just energy, which, up until now, has been used as the main indicator of sustainable performance. Critically, Level(s) factors in other key aspects of building performance such as greenhouse gas emissions, efficient use of water resources, health and wellbeing, adaptation and resilience to climate change, and cost and value.
Level(s) promotes circular thinking – encouraging its users to think about the whole life cycle of a building – from the manufacturing of the products and materials used to construct it, the energy used to operate it, through to its deconstruction and the eventual re-use and recycling of those materials.
The concept of a green building is relatively easy to understand: they use less energy, water and materials; are healthy and comfortable; provide value for money; and are better for the environment. However, understanding and applying the indicators to construct a green building is inherently more complex. Level(s) seeks to reduce this complexity by focusing attention on the most important aspects of a building’s performance, providing a simple entry point for anyone who wants to introduce this circular thinking into building projects.
Level(s) is the result of years of discussion and development with the building and construction industry, non-profit organisations (such as Green Building Councils) and the public sector – and they all stand to benefit.
It will enable governments of all sizes across Europe to incorporate the concept of the circular economy into their own national plans and strategies, and ensure these are aligned with European priorities and efforts to tackle climate change.