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Assess status and explore use of tools and methodologies

Assess status of the building stock in your community

Selection of practical entrance points and recommendations for the assessment process:

  • Set up an interdepartmental assessment group which decides about the methodology and assessment criteria that is going to be applied and identifies internal capacity and knowledge gaps, e.g. by using a SWOT-analysis, in order to consult and cooperate with other local organisations such as energy agencies, housing agencies or universities etc..
  • Sustainability and energy performance analysis through relevant stakeholder dialogues and site-visits of all or the ten major municipally managed buildings as well as a selection of industrial and privately owned buildings if possible, to gain knowledge of actual energy demands, usage and challenges in the local building stock. On-site analysis is very important to avoid the prebound effects, i.e.  an overestimation of actual benefits and pay-back time of refurbishment measures. Recently a related study of the University of Cambridge found out, that many European households are consuming less energy than predicted in standard energy calculations. Especially for energy-inefficient homes, the discrepancies between calculated and measured energy use can be up to 30%.
  • Build up of a register of the local building stock which captures relevant data like energy performance, renovation status and needs, vacancies etc. in order to be able to set priorities and manage resources efficiently (for more details see The Basics in the 1st level Building Module).


Advanced standards, tools and methodologies

  • Considering the high proportion of buildings’ energy consumption compared to the total energy consumption, the need to assess the energy and sustainability performance of buildings has been rising over the last decade and is now reflected by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and European Committee for Standardization (CEN) as well as regulated by recent EU directives (for more details see Guidance in the 1st level Building Module) and national legislation. For instance from 1 January 2013 it is mandatory (for LGs) in the Netherlands to calculate the environmental performance of new buildings and to provide the indicator values for global warming emissions and resource depletion. To support this escalating interest several assessment tools and methodologies have been developed and can be applied / procured by LGs.


Green buildings methodologies

  • The basic concept behind green buildings is to reduce the energy use and CO2 emissions through behaviour change, energy efficient design and the implementation of renewable energy technologies. The best-known international standards and certification schemes for green buildings are BREEAM, the United Kingdom's Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) in France, Minergie in Switzerland, and LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which was developed in the United States but is used globally.
  • Commonly these methodologies have produced related tools like BREEAM’s Green Guide Calculator or the International Initiative for Sustainable Build Environment – SBMethod’s SBTool, which has influenced the development of a number of national standards including in the Czech Republic (SBToolCZ) or Italy (Protocollo ITACA). These tools allow an assessment of new and existing buildings as well as community scale development beyond standard measures of energy and water performance.

Blue buildings methodologies and district planning

  • Another comprehensive methodology which seeks to follow an even more holistic approach by being „more than green“ are blue buildings certified through the German Sustainable Building Council’s DGNB  scheme. Here in addition to environmental and economic aspects, the social and cultural performance of buildings is assessed. The scheme was developed in cooperation with partner organisations from Austria (ÖGNI) and has now created country specific branches amongst others in Bulgaria (BGBC), Denmark (DK-GBC) and Hungary (HUGBC).
  • Here related tools cover the complexity of e.g. climate and legal conditions, geomorphology in the construction zone, materials including the availability of local materials, the use of sustainable technologies in buildings as well as local traditions and cultural aspects that might affect a buildings' construction. Usually the final output of these assessments rates the building as “certified”, meaning that it meets the minimum standards, or as bronze, silver or gold. It is important to note that the DGNB scheme does not assess individual measures but instead the overall performance of a building or urban districts.


Assessment system for municipal administration buildings

  • A freely accessible Assessment System for Sustainable Building (BNB) that targets in particular offices and administrative buildings was developed by DGNB and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) in Germany. The methodology’s main objective is to protect climate, resources, health, culture and capital. This demand is translated into the classical three dimensions of sustainability - ecological, economical and sociocultural aspects. Alongside these, the functional and technical properties (technical quality), the planning and implementation (process quality) and the local characteristics of buildings can be assessed in detail through 46 criteria on the basis of around 150 indicators.


Source: BMVBS


Life-cycle cost assessment – looking beyond price

  • According to International Energy Agency (IEA) calculation, the global electricity demand could be reduced by an estimated 30% in 2030, if the world would extensively apply life-cycle assessments as their basis for decision-making. Life-cycle costs (LCC) comprise the cost of a building including planning, production of raw materials, manufacturing, erection, utilisation including repair work and renovation as well as the demolition, re-use and disposal of components or the entire construction. Despite a slightly higher investment in the concept, planning and construction compared to conventional buildings, optimised life-cycle planning can halve whole-life costs of buildings in the utilisation phase (see graph – Source: BBSR).
  • LCC assessments can be applied to certain parts or components of buildings by using e.g. the freely available SMART SPP LCC-CO2 calculator. Other relevant tools relevant to LGs, descriptions of related barriers (political, data, capacity) that local governments typically face as well as recommended solutions for these can be found in the Whole Life Costing Report of the SCI-Network. LCC assessments of entire buildings can be done through the BNB methodology mentioned above.  




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