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Sustainable buildings

The building sector is one of the most resource consuming sectors in EU. Looking at the whole life cycle of a building, from the extraction of materials, the manufacturing of construction products, construction, use and maintenance, buildings in the EU amount for about:

  • 1/2 of extracted materials
  • 1/2 of energy consumption
  • 1/3 of water consumption
  • 1/3 of waste generated

Communication "Resource efficiency opportunities in the building sector"

In 2014, the European Commission adopted the Communication "Resource efficiency opportunities in the building sector" based on an Impact assessment roadmap. The general objective of this initiative is to reduce the environmental impact of buildings by improving the overall resource efficiency and, as a consequence, to improve the related competitiveness of construction businesses.

The idea is thus to:

  • Raise awareness of and demand for better environmental performing buildings, among private consumers, developers and public purchasers;
  • Improve knowledge and information regarding resource use and related environmental impacts in relation to buildings, in order to support decision making among designers, architects, developers, construction companies, construction product manufacturers, investors, consumers, etc.

In the preparation of the communication, the European Commission organised apublic consultation on sustainable buildings between July and October 2013. The result of this consultation can be found here.

Towards a common EU approach to assess the environmental performance of buildings


In the above mentioned communication, the European Commission identified the need for a common EU approach to the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings. The starting point would be 'common framework of core indicators'. The framework would be rigorous enough to drive improvement in performance and allow for comparison between buildings. 

The European Commission's 2015 Communication with the Circular Economy Action Plan furthermore reiterates this objective and adds that, given the long lifetime of buildings, it is essential to encourage design improvements that will reduce their environmental impacts and increase the durability and recyclability of their components. The Commission has therefore developed a framework of indicators to assess environmental performance throughout the lifecycle of a building and promote their use for building projects. This work started in 2015, with the intention to create a flexible system of indicators, so that they could be incorporated into new and existing assessment schemes, or be used on their own by a diverse range of stakeholders, including public authorities, design teams and property investors. This study has just been completed and the two reports can be found below.

The name given to this framework is "Level(s)", referring to the different levels at which the framework can be used.

It is important to emphasise that the intention is not to create a new standalone building certification scheme, or to establish common EU performance benchmarks, but rather that it should provide a voluntary reporting framework that has a broad potential for use by building sector professionals across the EU.

All information related to the study can be found here:

Level(s): building sustainability performance

Level(s) is a voluntary reporting framework to improve the sustainability of buildings. Using existing standards, Level(s) provides a common EU approach to the assessment of environmental performance in the built environment.

Level(s) aims at improving resource efficiency in the construction sector and bringing buildings into the circular economy; a regenerative economic system in which resource and energy consumption are minimised. Level(s) links the individual building’s environmental performance with resource priorities at European level. 

Level(s) was developed by the European Commission in close co-operation with industry stakeholders.

For more information, also on the test phase running from 2017 to 2019, please see:

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