Europe’s Level(s) initiative introduces advanced ESG criteria to allow better assessment of new and retrofitted buildings. These have been developed to support green public procurement policies and the construction sector’s sustainable financing.
One of the goals of this initiative is to harmonize the vocabulary around building sustainability, as well as the methodology for calculating buildings’ carbon footprint. This footprint, which indicates global warming contribution potential, is measured in CO2 equivalent units per indoor surface unit, in order to assess potential emissions reduction and offsetting plans along a 50-year reference period.
ESG criteria standardization
This political initiative applies the principles of the circular economy and life cycle analysis to buildings, whether residential or commercial, and whether existing, retrofitted or new.
Level(s) is not a certification system, but provides a limited framework of parameters surrounding the main aspects of the sustainability of a construction project, with the purpose of standardizing the calculation methodology and facilitating the verification or certification of results by third parties.
Spain’s Institute of Construction Technology (ITeC) organized an informational event on February 23 2022, attended by ClimateTrade, to explore the meaning of the Level(s) building sustainability assessment and measurement indicators.
The carbon footprint of buildings
The carbon footprint indicator measures the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a building at different phases along its life cycle. As such, it measures the building’s contribution to the Earth’s global warming and the effects of climate change.
This indicator takes into account the life cycle from “cradle” (the extraction of raw materials used to build the building) to “grave” (the demolition of the building and approach to reusing, recycling and disposing of materials). This process is sometimes called carbon footprint assessment or life cycle carbon measurement.
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Green public procurement
Environmental criteria are starting to be integrated into European administrations’ procurement processes. Basic sustainability, carbon impact measurement, materials, water, health comfort and climate change indicators along a building’s life cycle have become selection criteria for public procurement and assessment criteria for the valuation of public funds’ real estate portfolios.
Let’s not forget that Europe’s buildings are responsible for:
- 1/2 of all materials extraction
- 1/2 of total energy consumption
- 1/3 of water consumption
- 1/3 of waste generation
Since 2020, ITeC and ClimateTrade have been developing an innovative digital solution to simplify the work of public and private, residential and commercial building managers: in their asset management activities, these professionals receive the carbon footprint of their buildings at any stage in their life cycle and offset it in part or entirely thanks to a digital connection to the ClimateTrade marketplace.
This innovation presents building companies, promoters, real estate managers and investment companies with an advanced digital service for the offsetting of CO2 emissions as calculated by ITeC’s software, offering maximum accuracy and traceability in transactions for carbon-neutral certification.
This is an added-value service for compliance and CSR managers, making the work of semi-automating mandatory sustainability reports easier. It also involves a quality improvement in the sector’s digitization, awarding it more transparency around environmental, social and governance responsibility for the benefit of all its stakeholders.
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Article written by Francisco Martín, Head of Engineering and International Key Accounts Manager at ClimateTrade.