6.2 The European methodology for assessing sustainability of buildings

6.2.1 Framework

The EU has asked the European standardisation organisation CEN to develop a common European methodology for assessing sustainability of construction works. Today, the series consist of ten European standards and technical reports (CEN, 2012) – probably with more to come. The standards are voluntary, but created on a mandate given from the Commission; the methodologies are expected to become mandatory.

The standards fulfil the general principles for LCA (see section 6.1) and sustainability, described in international standards ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 (CEN, 2006a; ISO, 2006b) and by UNEP and SETAC (UNEP, 2009; EPEA, 2014) All major private scheme operators have declared that they will follow the principles of these standards or at least acknowledge data derived from applying the methodology (EPEA, 2014).

EN 15643-1 to 4 describes the framework for the methodology, which is a modular system.
A full sustainability assessment of a building requires investigation into its environmental, social and economic performance at all stages of its life cycle. The life cycle stages are divided into “before use”, and “EOL”.
​Figure 6.2.1 Sustainability assessment of buildings - standards overview. 

​Figure 6.2.2 Modular system for the building life cycle in the TC 350 standards.

Together, these two principles (Figure 6.2.1 and Figure 6.2.2) form a modular system in which the methodology can be described and the assessment performed. For each of the modules A1 to C4 there is, in principle, a description of how to assess the environmental-, social-, and economic performance of that aspect of a building in the methodology standards. 

CEN (2006) EN ISO 140-18: Acoustics - Measurement of sound insulation in buildings and of building elements - Part 18: Laboratory measurements of sound generated by rainfall on building elements.
CEN (2012a) EN 15804 Sustainability of construction works. Environmental product declarations. Core rules for the product category of construction products.
EPEA (2014) http://epea-hamburg.org/index.php?id=69 (accessed: 2014-11-07).
UNEP (2009) UN Environmental Programme and SETAC – Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.