Comfort and safety

How Knauf Insulation is supporting an exciting new era of sustainable building assessment

By Knauf Insulation
June 02, 2021

Europe’s construction industry has taken a major leap forward with the launch of clear harmonised definitions of criteria for sustainable building — and Knauf Insulation is working to help specifiers maximise this exciting development.

A European Commission initiative known as Level(s) has been established to help anyone understand the sustainability of a building by showing how to measure key areas such as the building’s embodied carbon, resource use circularity, energy efficiency and health and comfort over its entire lifecycle.

Now Green Building Rating Systems such as BREEAM, HQE and DGNB are trying to harmonise their parameters, metrics and technical input in line with Level(s) so that when talking about, for example, ‘whole life cycle carbon’ or the parameters for ‘construction and demolition waste’ the same indicators, metrics and values are used.

“Why is this important? Well, it means everyone is talking the same language with nothing lost in translation,” says Jean-Pierre Pigeolet, Knauf Insulation’s Products & Buildings Sustainability Manager.

“For instance, someone buying a house or renting an office can compare if one building is more sustainable than another using the same indicators and metrics. The Level(s) harmonisation allows benchmarking, accurate comparison and a level playing field for everyone.”

Measuring building decarbonisation in Europe

Prior to this potential harmonisation coming out, there were differences, for example, about what actually constituted ‘carbon emissions per square metre of a building’. Some schemes would not include the lobby, stairs or technical rooms in their carbon calculations, while others would, creating a distortion when it came to comparing one building with another. These differences should be ironed out.

In the bigger picture, the harmonisation of standards means that everyone is using the same metrics — and the same targets — to measure the success of decarbonisation in buildings.

The European Union aims to be the first continent to be carbon neutral by 2050 and reducing building carbon plays a vital role in this ambition as buildings are responsible for 36% of CO2 emitted in the EU. Level(s) will ultimately be the core tool used to assess how successful (or not) this is in reality.

So how can Knauf Insulation help?

On a practical level, we have all the information required to show how our products — beyond energy efficiency — can improve the sustainability of a building across its lifecycle and how they can play a vital role in three key areas of Level(s) — embodied carbon across a building’s lifecycle, recycled and recyclable materials and health and well-being.

Measuring full lifecycle carbon: We have independently verified Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) that reveal in forensic detail the environmental impact of our products and their embodied carbon across their entire lifecycle. These EPDs are available for download from knaufinsulation.com and the list is constantly improved and updated as new products come on line.

Maximising recycled material: Our Glass Mineral Wool uses up to 80% recycled glass bottles and we are working on new initiatives to recycle more scrap from our Glass and Rock Mineral Wool customers.

Building health and well-being: Our SUPAFIL® Blowing Wool, our Urbanscape® Rock Mineral Wool and just recently our unfaced Glass Mineral Wool with ECOSE Technology® rolls and slabs have all been certified by DECLARE in Europe. This means these products are publicly and transparently certified free of any harmful and unhealthy chemicals that feature on the independent Living Building Institute’s Red List. Furthermore, most of our products are certified ‘Gold’ for Indoor Air Comfort, the highest rating of the European eco-label Eurofins.

How to gain points in Green Building Rating Systems: In addition, we offer downloadable factsheets that show how our products can contribute points in the most popular Green Building Rating Systems including LEEDv4, DGNB, BREEAM and WELL.

 

Our role in the success of Level(s)

Skofia Loka, green week

Knauf Insulation has been involved in the Level(s) initiative since the very beginning and it is exciting to see how it has grown in influence and success over the years,” says Jean-Pierre.

“When we built our Knauf Insulation Experience Center in Slovenia it was a Level(s) pilot project and we aimed to achieve the highest levels of building sustainability possible reporting our results and progress to the European Commission.

“We have also been involved in the consultation process of Level(s) helping to shape the initiative over the years. For example, we were instrumental in including acoustic comfort in the area that covers building health and well-being and we are hoping to include fire safety into the initiative as it evolves.”

The next stage of Level(s) is to see the potential introduction of a new tool that will enable architects, specifiers and anyone concerned about sustainability to access a database that compares sustainable buildings across Europe.

“This will enable the initiation of better sustainable building in Europe through the cross fertilisation of ideas and the comparison of projects. At Knauf Insulation we are looking forward to this exciting new phase and building better buildings across Europe.”

For more details about how Knauf Insulation solutions can improve the sustainability of your next building project visit our site here.

 

To learn how our solutions can help you earn more Green Building Rating System points — request one of our LEED, BREEAM, DGNB or WELL documents below.

Picture in the header : HUF HAUS Model House, Hartenfels, Germany