MO.2.E || What Gets Measured, Gets Improved – Impact Assessment and Environmental Labeling Along the Production Chain II

Iyer, Vignesh; Ebert, Samuel; Wagner, Anna; Hollberg, Alexander

Several benchmarking systems in the form of regulations, labelling systems, sustainability rating tools and independent research studies exist to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings in Europe through life cycle assessment (LCA). Most of the benchmarks approach environmental performance through relative comparisons of buildings and hence their compliance with the Paris climate agreement targets is not known. This study focuses on fourteen benchmarking systems and evaluates whether their values for climate change (Global warming potential (GWP)) are compliant to the 1.5 degree and 2 degrees Celsius targets of the Paris climate agreement. It is achieved through two steps; 1. adjusting all benchmark values for GWP to a common reference unit (m2*year) to enable a comparison and 2. using carrying capacity normalization factors to allocate total annual kgCO2-eq budget per floor area of each building type covered by the selected benchmarking systems. The results show that thirteen out of fourteen benchmarking systems provide values overshooting the allocated carrying capacity and hence don’t achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The study calls for stricter building environmental benchmarks keeping the Paris climate agreement goals in mind and discusses three measures to achieve the same: minimizing environmental impacts of building construction and use phase, and reducing the living area per person especially in residential buildings. Key words: Life cycle assessment, benchmarking systems, global warming potential, Paris climate agreement