Sustainability in Construction
At its core, sustainability means preserving life for people and nature on earth across generations. Economical, ecological and social concerns are meant to be in harmony. Based on international conferences, such as the UN summits in Rio de Janeiro (1992) and New York (2015), a definition which places sustainability on these three pillars has established itself.
The federal government has adopted the 3-pillar model and has been pursuing an ambitious programme for the future since 2002 with the sustainability strategy “Perspectives for Germany”. For this long-term planning the construction industry is playing a significant role, as it offers much potential for resource, energy and waste savings.
The assessment of sustainability in construction is carried out on the basis of recognised scientific methods such as life cycle assessment or life cycle cost accounting. Standardised criteria measure the quality of sustainability and translate this into reliable building certification systems. The corresponding protection objectives include the conservation of natural resources, the minimisation of life cycle costs and the preservation of health and safety. Building specific assessment criteria for technical sustainability, for example in the areas “fire, noise and thermal protection”, as well as for recycling ability of the building materials used, also play a large role. As KLB-Klimaleichtblock was able to document with its current sustainability report, light-weight concrete has natural advantages for this.
In the final analysis, it is important to analyse the building over its entire life cycle and down to the last detail of each individual building product used. Based on the life cycle assessment of a building product so-called Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) therefore are created that serve as the basis for later certification of the entire building. These building certificates offer the residents much helpful information on the sustainability of their own living environment. They guarantee the developer mostly greater competitiveness and better marketing chances.
Sustainability in the standardisation process
- European Building Product Ordinance (BauPVO):
The regulation has been in force since 01.07.2013 and regulates the Europe-wide marketing of construction products on the basis of seven basic requirements. Point 7 “Sustainable use of natural resources” has been added versus the previous standard and focusses on recycling of the resources used after the building is torn down. Requirement 3 "Hygiene, health and environmental protection" has been extended to cover the whole life cycle of a building with regard to the release of hazardous and climate-relevant substances.
- DIN EN 15804:
The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN/TC 350) has concretised the specifications of the international standard ISO 14025 for creating environmental product declarations (EPDs). The result is DIN EN 15804. It provides basic product category rules (PCR) for the declaration of construction products and construction services of all kinds and thus paves the way for EPDs valid throughout Europe in the future. For their international harmonisation the standardisation work as part of ISO/TC 59/SC 17 “Sustainable Construction” on a global basis and CEN/TC 350 “Sustainability of Buildings” on a European level is indispensable.