Slovenia, May 29, 2018—The European Commission’s Level(s) initiative offers a unique and unmissable opportunity to make Europe’s buildings more sustainable and in the process tackle climate change, reduce waste, cut energy use and improve well-being and comfort.
Last Tuesday 29th of May, a high-level workshop has been organised by Knauf Insulation, Europe Regional Network of the World Green Building Council, Slovenia Green Building Council, DGNB and with the support of the Slovenian Government and the European Commission in Slovenia. Over a hundred green building specialists, construction industry representatives, policy makers and private investors were brought together to discuss how to maximise the opportunities offered by Level(s) to inspire an exciting new generation of sustainable buildings.
Creating a more sustainable built environment is one of Europe’s most pressing problems. Knauf Insulation’s Group Marketing Director Saša Bavec told the workshop that buildings produce 35% of Europe’s CO2, use 40% of all energy, consume half of all extracted materials and generate more than a third of total waste.
Josefina Lindblom of the European Commission’s DG Environment, Unit Eco-Innovation and Circular Economy, said Level(s) was a vital first step in tackling these issues because it would generate the data from building projects which are needed to understand the environmental, social and economic impact of buildings across their entire lifecycle — using language that everyone could understand.
“Less than 1% of all buildings are sustainability assessed,” she said. “This should not be for the few. Assessing the sustainability of buildings has to be mass market and we have designed Level(s) with this in mind.”
At present Level(s) is in a pilot stage, but it offers huge potential to complement Green Building Rating Systems, shape future building regulations and ‘mainstream’ sustainability by inspiring the private and public sector as well as the building industry.
Our new Knauf Insulation Experience Center at škofja Loka is a Level(s) pilot project building contributing valuable research to the initiative — and was the focus of detailed feedback from our sustainability specialists.
“Level(s) is addressing global challenges such as climate change and resource efficiency, but also issues such as building well-being and comfort,” said our Sustainability and Product Regulatory Affairs Director, Vincent Briard.
“Our hope is that research gathered from our pilot project will eventually contribute creating the foundations for ground-breaking new European legislation on sustainable buildings. The Level(s) pilot is an exciting unmissable opportunity for the construction industry and I would encourage everyone to get involved in this paradigm shift of the industry.”
Our Experience Centre will also be Slovenia’s first building to be certified by the DGNB. Assessor Robert Smodiš told the workshop it was a privilege to be part of the project but working to the demanding sustainability standards of DGNB was an education for everyone in the building chain.
“Contractors would ask, what does sustainability mean? What about documentation? What products can we use? Sometimes it was difficult to source solutions, but we would talk and then sit down and work it out. Now we are on this journey together everyone wants to learn something from the process.”
Saša Galonja, Head of Construction Division Spatial Planning, Construction and Housing Directorate, at the Slovenian Environment Ministry, said his government was examining the possibility of using Level(s) to inform the country’s future building sustainability regulations. “We see many positive aspects to Level(s) and we are eager to see where the initiative is going,” he said.
Anna Braune, Director of Research and Development of the German Green Building Rating Scheme, DGNB, said: “We use Level(s) as a tool that says, ‘Look this is how the EU is most likely to drive regulation’.” DGNB and Level(s) focus on full lifecycle of buildings, highlight the importance of well-being and comfort and put emphasis on transparent documentation of key aspects of building sustainability, she said.
Iztok Kamenski of the Slovenia Green Building Council said his organisation was collaborating closely with public agencies, the private sector, architects and specifiers to deepen understanding of building sustainability through conferences, workshop, education and certification. “Sustainability has to become a new reality,” he said.
James Drinkwater, Director of the Europe Regional Network of the World Green Building Council added: “Level(s) goes to the heart of what the EU has to offer its citizens and to the global agenda. Our sector is uniquely positioned to help society achieve the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainability Goals of the United Nations.”
• Following presentations by key speakers all delegates were taken to see the new Knauf Insulation Experience Center at Skofja Loka.