6.3 Assessments of buildings

There are many different schemes for assessment of buildings. The majority are private programmes with or without official recognition by national authorities. It is always advisable to check the background and reputation of a scheme.

The purpose of certifications of sustainable buildings is to define the quality level for sustainability. Based on performance criteria, different buildings can be compared and benchmarked. The number of global certification systems is growing. There are many national systems but the best-known international systems are the English BREEAM and the American LEED. Two newer systems are the French HQE and the German DGNB.

6.3.1 Active House

Active House principles are used to design and renovate buildings that contribute positively to human health and well-being by focusing on the indoor and outdoor environment and the use of renewable energy. An Active House is evaluated on the basis of the interactions between energy consumption, indoor climate conditions and impact on the environment. An Active House is energy efficient, with all its energy requirements met by renewable energy sources, either integrated in the building or from the local collective energy system and electricity grid – thus making it CO2 neutral.

An Active House creates healthy and comfortable indoor conditions for the occupants and ensures a generous supply of daylight and fresh air.

An Active House interacts positively with the environment by means of an optimised relationship with the local context, focused use of resources, and on its overall environmental impact throughout its life cycle.

The vision of an Active House is to create buildings that give more than they take.

The Active House Specifications 2.0 are openly available and include a self-assessment tool, attractive for design scenarios, homeowners and other interested people, www.activehouse.info. 
A radar is used to illustrate the parameters evaluated. Below is an example from the French Model Home, Maison Air et Lumière (MAL).

Figure 6.3.1 Active House radar for the calculated performance of the French Model Home, Maison Air et Lumière (MAL).

6.3.2 BREEAM

The BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) was established in the UK in 1990 by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). It considers performance criteria for sustainability in ten categories. Projects certified to BREEAM are rated on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding. BREEAM is used by Green Building Councils in United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Norway and Sweden. https://www.breeam.com/

6.3.3 German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB)

The DGNB method was developed by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and the German Government. There are 49 criteria in 6 categories. Certifications are awarded in bronze, silver and gold. DGNB is very closely linked to European standards and is currently in use in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Denmark, adapted to national standards. http://www.dgnb.de

6.3.4 French Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE)

HQE is the French system for certification of sustainable buildings. The approach is to promote sustainable buildings in accordance with HQE principles. They comprise 15 goals, whose achievable levels are “high performance”, “performance” or “base”. Several environmental impacts (e.g. energy performance, use of resources, recyclability and indoor air quality) are taken into account. www.behqe.com

6.3.5 LEED

The LEED method was developed by the US Green Building Council and is one of the oldest systems. A building can be certified silver, gold and platinum, based on an assessment of eight different categories of indicators. LEED is used in Romania, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany and France. https://new.usgbc.org/leed

6.3.6 Passive House

The Passive House concept has existed in Germany since the 1990s, providing target values for heating requirements, building airtightness and total primary energy demand. The Passive House concept is a certification scheme with calculations for annual energy consumption for heating, hot water and household electricity evaluated against the system's requirements. https://www.passivehouse-international.org/

6.3.7 Green Building Councils

Green Building Councils support a certifications scheme and the development of Green buildings in their area. There is a Green Building Council in more than a 100 countries.

The best place for more information is the World Green Building Council – www.worldgbc.org – an umbrella organisation for Green Building Councils worldwide.