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Green building certification systems assess a building’s performance based on environmental and wider sustainability criteria and provide the evidence that building procures a certain sustainability standard. Green certification can stimulate investments in renewable technologies, even when they are not cost-effective. However, it is generally efficient in niche markets because such certification is on a voluntary based.
In this business model a property developer or architect designs and builds buildings certified according to a voluntary green certification scheme, expecting to realize a sales/rent price premium compared to conventional buildings. This is frequently the case in the North American and some Asian markets.
This premium should compensate for the additional costs related to the green features of the building, and for the costs of the certification.
Drivers for an increasing demand for certified buildings include:
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): green buildings are part of their green image;
- Reducing operating costs of green buildings
- Enhancing levels of comfort for building users, which in commercial buildings may lead to higher productivity and less sick leave;
- Regulation which mandates green certification, for example for public buildings, and turns voluntary schemes into mandatory ones.
Most green building certification systems cover a range of environmental and broader sustainability criteria related to energy and water uses, indoor environment and materials used. Some systems also include criteria on functionality and comfort, economic questions and innovation. Normally, a building must fulfil most of the criteria set by the certification systems.
There are a variety of voluntary certification systems globally. The most widely used are the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards and the UK based ‘Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment’ (BREEAM). There are also schemes which focus exclusively on energy related criteria, e.g. the U.S. and Canadian Energy Star label for buildings, the German ‘Passive house’ standard, the French ‘Haute Qualité Environnementale’ (HQE) stardard and the Swiss ‘Minergie’ standard.
In addition to certification systems, there are also building rating systems, which do not issue a formal certificate. These rating systems support project developers by setting clear standards on what constitutes a green building. As rating a building is cheaper than undergoing a formal certification process, rating systems are frequently used for residential buildings.
The renovation of Torrelago district was implemented in the framework of the FP7 funded CITyFiED project (http://www.cityfied.eu/) .
Torrelago district involves 31 private multi-property residential buildings (1488 dwellings) that were constructed in the 1970s–1980s, more than 140,000 m2 and 4000residents involved. Former conditions of the district were very low in terms of efficiency, comfort and costs, which fostered the intervention. Main energy measures implemented at the building scale are buildings external insulation (Composite System-ETICS, ventilated façade), connection to district heating (twelve new heat exchange substations at building level), individual metering to raise users’ awareness.
DREEAM – Demonstrating an integrated Renovation approach for Energy Efficiency At the Multi-building scale
The H2020 project DREEAM focuses on the deep renovation of social houses managed by a single owner with a large portfolio of residential buildings. The investment scenario model has been developed by Bax & Company in the framework of the DREEAM project to demonstrate the value of scaled investment planning for achieving building owners’ long-term sustainability vision. Applying a “backcasting” approach, energy efficiency targets are considered the starting point for the development of investment strategies which realistically link the building owners’ financial capacity with the renovation measures to be implemented.
The current status of the building portfolio is assessed based on the crosscutting dataset built from operational, technical and financial data points at dwelling level. Building typologies (archetypes) and age are key tools for categorising the stock as well as a basis for the design of tailored renovation packages.
The integration and visualisation of datasets in an interactive manner allows decision-makers to quickly design and assess alternative investment strategies. Having applied the tool with 10 housing providers across Europe, the tool has helped to bring decision-making energy efficiency investment to board level. The tool offers:
- Increased importance and agreed investment in data collection and management
- Adjusted (often upwards) of renovation investments, due to better insight in (financial) feasibility
- Unlocking of better financial conditions (‘green’ interest discounts) and national and EU grants
Example of simplified renovation package
Example of simplified renovation package
The project STUNNING aims at building up a stakeholder community around a Renovation Hub designed as a knowledge sharing platform, providing information on innovative solutions for building renovation and novel business models (illustrated through case studies) for their adoption and large scale replication. The provided solutions involve affordable and adaptable refurbishment packages, taking into consideration the whole renovation value chain.
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