Categorizing Building certification systems according to the definition of sustainable building

Regitze Kjær Zimmermann, Ole Skjelmose, Kasper Guldager Jensen, Kristian Knorr Jensen, Harpa Birgisdottir

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Abstract

The availability of sustainable (or green) building certifications schemes is constantly increasing and it is not always easy to understand how the schemes on the market differentiate from each other. The purpose of this study is to create a better dialog between client and consultant in relation to building certification systems. Here it is relevant to give an overview and understanding of selected certification systems, and how they fulfil the definition of sustainable buildings. There is a great variation of how certification systems are structured and evaluated. Furthermore, "sustainability" is a word with many meanings and definitions, which is why sustainable certifications will also vary. In this study, certification schemes are categorized using a definition of sustainable buildings. This definition consists of a social, environmental and economic dimension of sustainability and in total 13 subcategories. The subcategories are based on recent years' publications concerning sustainable buildings from the Danish Building Research Institute and the Danish Transport and Construction Agency, which leans on the European CEN TC/350 standards for sustainable buildings. The certification schemes analysed are both of international, regional and local scale (Active House, BREEAM, DGNB, Green Star, HQE, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Miljöbyggnad, Nordic Ecolabel and WELL). The results show a large variation of the weight on the dimensions of social, environmental and economic sustainability within the 10 certification schemes included in the analysis. To be defined as a sustainable building certification, the three dimensions should be given equal weight according to the definition of sustainability. However, this is only the case for the DGNB certification scheme. A majority of the building certifications have the largest focus on criteria within the environmental dimension. Across the selected certifications this dimension account for an average of 51%. This indicates that certifications have "green" buildings as their main focus point. However, a certification such as WELL almost completely focuses on social sustainability (93%) due to its attention to the wellbeing of the user inside the building. The social dimension on average account for 43% with a large focus on the indoor environment. Overall, economy is only represented in the certifications to a very low degree (average of 5.6%), except within DGNB. There are aspects, which this categorisation method does not consider such as the ambition within the criteria. In addition, the values in the environmental and social dimensions potentially have an impact on the economic value of the building and thus the economic dimension indirectly becomes a focus, which is not visible through this method. However, the categorisation makes it easy to get an overview of the thematic content within the certification and thereby highlight the value of the certification. Furthermore, it could be of especially good use for non-technical clients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering
Volume471
Number of pages8
ISSN1757-8981
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventWorld Multidisciplinary Civil Engineering - Architecture - Urban Planning Symposium 2018 - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 18 Jun 201822 Jun 2018
Conference number: 3rd
https://wmcaus.org/

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ConferenceWorld Multidisciplinary Civil Engineering - Architecture - Urban Planning Symposium 2018
Number3rd
CountryCzech Republic
CityPrague
Period18/06/201822/06/2018
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title = "Categorizing Building certification systems according to the definition of sustainable building",
abstract = "The availability of sustainable (or green) building certifications schemes is constantly increasing and it is not always easy to understand how the schemes on the market differentiate from each other. The purpose of this study is to create a better dialog between client and consultant in relation to building certification systems. Here it is relevant to give an overview and understanding of selected certification systems, and how they fulfil the definition of sustainable buildings. There is a great variation of how certification systems are structured and evaluated. Furthermore, {"}sustainability{"} is a word with many meanings and definitions, which is why sustainable certifications will also vary. In this study, certification schemes are categorized using a definition of sustainable buildings. This definition consists of a social, environmental and economic dimension of sustainability and in total 13 subcategories. The subcategories are based on recent years' publications concerning sustainable buildings from the Danish Building Research Institute and the Danish Transport and Construction Agency, which leans on the European CEN TC/350 standards for sustainable buildings. The certification schemes analysed are both of international, regional and local scale (Active House, BREEAM, DGNB, Green Star, HQE, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Milj{\"o}byggnad, Nordic Ecolabel and WELL). The results show a large variation of the weight on the dimensions of social, environmental and economic sustainability within the 10 certification schemes included in the analysis. To be defined as a sustainable building certification, the three dimensions should be given equal weight according to the definition of sustainability. However, this is only the case for the DGNB certification scheme. A majority of the building certifications have the largest focus on criteria within the environmental dimension. Across the selected certifications this dimension account for an average of 51{\%}. This indicates that certifications have {"}green{"} buildings as their main focus point. However, a certification such as WELL almost completely focuses on social sustainability (93{\%}) due to its attention to the wellbeing of the user inside the building. The social dimension on average account for 43{\%} with a large focus on the indoor environment. Overall, economy is only represented in the certifications to a very low degree (average of 5.6{\%}), except within DGNB. There are aspects, which this categorisation method does not consider such as the ambition within the criteria. In addition, the values in the environmental and social dimensions potentially have an impact on the economic value of the building and thus the economic dimension indirectly becomes a focus, which is not visible through this method. However, the categorisation makes it easy to get an overview of the thematic content within the certification and thereby highlight the value of the certification. Furthermore, it could be of especially good use for non-technical clients.",
author = "Zimmermann, {Regitze Kj{\ae}r} and Ole Skjelmose and {Guldager Jensen}, Kasper and {Knorr Jensen}, Kristian and Harpa Birgisdottir",
year = "2019",
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volume = "471",
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Categorizing Building certification systems according to the definition of sustainable building. / Zimmermann, Regitze Kjær; Skjelmose, Ole; Guldager Jensen, Kasper; Knorr Jensen, Kristian; Birgisdottir, Harpa.

In: IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, Vol. 471, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article in JournalResearchpeer-review

TY - GEN

T1 - Categorizing Building certification systems according to the definition of sustainable building

AU - Zimmermann, Regitze Kjær

AU - Skjelmose, Ole

AU - Guldager Jensen, Kasper

AU - Knorr Jensen, Kristian

AU - Birgisdottir, Harpa

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N2 - The availability of sustainable (or green) building certifications schemes is constantly increasing and it is not always easy to understand how the schemes on the market differentiate from each other. The purpose of this study is to create a better dialog between client and consultant in relation to building certification systems. Here it is relevant to give an overview and understanding of selected certification systems, and how they fulfil the definition of sustainable buildings. There is a great variation of how certification systems are structured and evaluated. Furthermore, "sustainability" is a word with many meanings and definitions, which is why sustainable certifications will also vary. In this study, certification schemes are categorized using a definition of sustainable buildings. This definition consists of a social, environmental and economic dimension of sustainability and in total 13 subcategories. The subcategories are based on recent years' publications concerning sustainable buildings from the Danish Building Research Institute and the Danish Transport and Construction Agency, which leans on the European CEN TC/350 standards for sustainable buildings. The certification schemes analysed are both of international, regional and local scale (Active House, BREEAM, DGNB, Green Star, HQE, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Miljöbyggnad, Nordic Ecolabel and WELL). The results show a large variation of the weight on the dimensions of social, environmental and economic sustainability within the 10 certification schemes included in the analysis. To be defined as a sustainable building certification, the three dimensions should be given equal weight according to the definition of sustainability. However, this is only the case for the DGNB certification scheme. A majority of the building certifications have the largest focus on criteria within the environmental dimension. Across the selected certifications this dimension account for an average of 51%. This indicates that certifications have "green" buildings as their main focus point. However, a certification such as WELL almost completely focuses on social sustainability (93%) due to its attention to the wellbeing of the user inside the building. The social dimension on average account for 43% with a large focus on the indoor environment. Overall, economy is only represented in the certifications to a very low degree (average of 5.6%), except within DGNB. There are aspects, which this categorisation method does not consider such as the ambition within the criteria. In addition, the values in the environmental and social dimensions potentially have an impact on the economic value of the building and thus the economic dimension indirectly becomes a focus, which is not visible through this method. However, the categorisation makes it easy to get an overview of the thematic content within the certification and thereby highlight the value of the certification. Furthermore, it could be of especially good use for non-technical clients.

AB - The availability of sustainable (or green) building certifications schemes is constantly increasing and it is not always easy to understand how the schemes on the market differentiate from each other. The purpose of this study is to create a better dialog between client and consultant in relation to building certification systems. Here it is relevant to give an overview and understanding of selected certification systems, and how they fulfil the definition of sustainable buildings. There is a great variation of how certification systems are structured and evaluated. Furthermore, "sustainability" is a word with many meanings and definitions, which is why sustainable certifications will also vary. In this study, certification schemes are categorized using a definition of sustainable buildings. This definition consists of a social, environmental and economic dimension of sustainability and in total 13 subcategories. The subcategories are based on recent years' publications concerning sustainable buildings from the Danish Building Research Institute and the Danish Transport and Construction Agency, which leans on the European CEN TC/350 standards for sustainable buildings. The certification schemes analysed are both of international, regional and local scale (Active House, BREEAM, DGNB, Green Star, HQE, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Miljöbyggnad, Nordic Ecolabel and WELL). The results show a large variation of the weight on the dimensions of social, environmental and economic sustainability within the 10 certification schemes included in the analysis. To be defined as a sustainable building certification, the three dimensions should be given equal weight according to the definition of sustainability. However, this is only the case for the DGNB certification scheme. A majority of the building certifications have the largest focus on criteria within the environmental dimension. Across the selected certifications this dimension account for an average of 51%. This indicates that certifications have "green" buildings as their main focus point. However, a certification such as WELL almost completely focuses on social sustainability (93%) due to its attention to the wellbeing of the user inside the building. The social dimension on average account for 43% with a large focus on the indoor environment. Overall, economy is only represented in the certifications to a very low degree (average of 5.6%), except within DGNB. There are aspects, which this categorisation method does not consider such as the ambition within the criteria. In addition, the values in the environmental and social dimensions potentially have an impact on the economic value of the building and thus the economic dimension indirectly becomes a focus, which is not visible through this method. However, the categorisation makes it easy to get an overview of the thematic content within the certification and thereby highlight the value of the certification. Furthermore, it could be of especially good use for non-technical clients.

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