As a tool of the circular economy, Level(s) … provides a common EU approach to the environmental performance assessment of buildings

A new open source assessment framework for sustainable buildings, Level(s), has been developed by the European Commission in close collaboration with stakeholders including Skanska, Saint-Gobain, Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils. It will be presented on 21 June during the 2017 EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) policy conference at the session ‘EU voluntary initiatives to achieve a sustainable building stock’.

Level(s) is a voluntary reporting framework that has a broad potential for use by building sector professionals across the EU. It is not a new standalone building certification scheme, nor does it establish performance benchmarks, but rather it links the individual building’s environmental impact with resource priorities at European level.

Bringing buildings into the circular economy

The buildings sector is a key target in the European Commission’s policy for circular economy; a regenerative economic system in which resource and energy consumption are minimised. As a tool of the circular economy, Level(s) builds upon existing standards to provide a common EU approach to the environmental performance assessment of buildings.

Level(s) focuses attention on the most important aspects of a building's performance, providing a simple entry point to what can be a very complex area. Each Level(s) indicator is designed to link the individual building’s impact with the priorities for circular economy at the European level, including: 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, and whole building life cycle cost and value.

Step by step

Level(s) enables users to move from simple to more complex life cycle assessment calculation methods. The entry point to Level(s) is through the common performance metrics, common units of measurement and basic calculation methodologies. To compare the environmental performance of buildings, at a portfolio or national level, Level(s) also offers the option of comparative performance assessment, suitable for building professionals and owners of property portfolios.

Ready for testing

After more than two years of work, Level(s) is ready for testing from autumn 2017. Participants can test the complete Level(s) framework, or only parts of it, at different stages during a building's life cycle. The feedback from test results will help improve Level(s) ahead of its final release, ensuring that the indicators and the user guidelines are reliable and ready to market. To register your interest in testing, go to: http://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/Levels

More information

Energy efficiency of buildings is a major theme in the European Commission’s Clean Energy for All Europeans package of proposals and a focus of this year’s EUSEW policy conference.

Find out more about sustainable energy for buildings at EUSEW 2017. Check out the full programme of policy sessions and networking events here.