Posted in Sustainability
Lately the EU GreenBuilding programme has gained popularity with major developers. But what does the EU Green Building really cover? And are there any alternatives to the EU GreenBuilding programme?
“GreenBuilding is a voluntary programme which was initiated by the European Commission in 2005. The programme intends to raise awareness and trigger additional investments in energy efficiency and renewable energies among owners of non-residential buildings and to give advice and public recognition to those, who are ready to implement ambitious measures in their buildings, resulting in substantial energy savings. These savings not only contribute to the European fight against climate change, but make also good business sense as it will reduce energy costs.
Who can participate in GreenBuilding?
Owners of non-residential buildings; they can become GreenBuilding Partner.
Businesses from the building sector, contributing to energy efficiency in the non-residential building sector with their products or services; they can become GreenBuilding Endorser.
How to become GreenBuilding Partner
For becoming GreenBuilding Partner, you implement energy efficiency measures in your building(s):
Refurbishment of existing non-residential building(s): primary energy consumption reduced by at least 25% (if economically viable), total or related to the end-use or subsystem, which is being modernised.
New non-residential building(s): primary energy consumption 25% below building standard (if economically viable) or below the consumption of “conventional” buildings presently constructed.
Building(s) already renovated or refurbished (after 01.01.2000): primary energy consumption reduced by at least 25% or the building(s) consume 25% less energy than required by the national building standard in force at that time.
There are three steps in becoming a GreenBuilding Partner:
1. Performing an Energy Audit
2. Development and submission of an Action-Plan based on the audit, describing the measures to be performed
3. Reporting about the success of the Action-Plan implementation”
First of all the understanding of ‘green building’ mentioned in this quotation is purely focused on the energy consumption in buildings. This understanding of green building differs from other understandings of the term green building, which aside from energy also focus on biodiversity and materials [2-3].
The EU GreenBuilding programme focuses on ensuring commitment from building owners and developers to become a GreenBuilding partner, as well as, endorsement from actors in the building industry.
This commitment to energy-efficient design is a positive contribution to the range of schemes available to building owners and developers. However, this commitment falls short if the building owner or developer aims at a holistic approach to tackling climate change or even sustainable building.
If this is the case he or she should consider using one of the internationally acclaimed certification schemes for sustainable buildings, e.g. BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) or LEED (Leadership in Energy-Efficient Design), which provide sustainability assessment schemes with a wider range of issues related to sustainable building design. These schemes provide a frame by which the building owner or developer can set his/her targets and they provide designers of buildings with a tool to achieve this target.
Lastly, the schemes ensure third-party verification of the achieved score for the project, which means that the sustainability strategy taken in the building design is subjected to a benchmarked scheme by which other sustainable building designs are also measured. The BREEAM and LEED schemes do not in their current form (2008 versions) cover all issues relating to the sustainability of buildings, but they do cover a majority of these, and the schemes are significantly different from one another in their approach to sustainability – i.e. which issues of sustainability are weighted and scored in the schemes. Building owners and developers should therefore consider which scheme fulfils their specific approach to sustainability, whether they want to set a specific target that all their buildings have to abide by, and how this target fits into their ‘sustainable’ business strategy.
Feel free to contact me for more information about the different schemes mentioned here (and others), and how the schemes fit your specific profile as a building owner, developer or designer.
2. Edwards 2003: Green Buildings Pay, by Brian Edwards,Spon Press,
3. Wines 2000: ‘Green Architecture’ by James Wines, Taschen, Köln