At the European level, there are two main frameworks for determining the environmental impacts of building solutions, i.e. EN 15804:2012+A1:2013 and EN 15978:2011 (sustainability of construction works, environmental product declarations, core rules for the product category of construction products and calculation method), and the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) developed by the European Commission (EC DG Environment). Each of these frameworks has its own goal and corresponding methodological choices. Although the EN standards have their main focus on the built environment, they only consider seven environmental impact categories while several scientific studies have indicated the need for a broader environmental perspective, especially when assessing the environmental performance of buildings. In 2013, the European Commission published the PEF methodology. The aim of proposing the EU-wide PEF methodology is to measure the environmental performance of products and to encourage Member States and the private sector to take them up. The PEF methodology considers 14 environmental impact categories that are not only specifically developed for the construction sector.

VITO and KU Leuven have developed a framework for specific use in the Belgian building context with the aim to get insights into the environmental performance of different kinds of building element variants and buildings as a whole. That framework deviates from the EN standards and includes a broader list of environmental impact categories (PEF). Up until now, it has helped to gain insights into the environmental performance of building materials (to be) used in Belgian building (element) solutions. After proving its added value through different policy and design-oriented research projects, the assessment framework was updated in 2015 to comply with the EN standards and latest evolutions on PEF. The main difference between this assessment framework and the European framework lies in the calculation of aggregated scores through environmental external costing. By doing so, the environmental performance of building elements and buildings can be expressed by one figure, which makes decision-making processes more straightforward. A comparative study proves that the assessment framework is a valuable alternative for the EN standards and in agreement with the PEF framework. The development of user-friendly designer and policy instruments to assess Belgian buildings is the next major development step to be taken.

The presentation at the QGBC Conference 2016 conference will focus on the methodology development. In addition, the presentation will illustrate the application of the methodology by presenting some results of the main important building element variants. By November 2016 when the QGBC Conference 2016 will take place, it is expected that the first results of the development of the designer tool for architects and building contractors and the policy supporting tool for the Belgian government will be ready for presentation.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error