Sustainable Building Alliance

The SBA initiative is supported by the UNESCO Chair for sustainable buildings and the UNEP sustainable building and construction initiative UNEP-SBCI [] .

SBA is a non-profit, non-partisan international network of universities, research centers and technical assessment organizations that is intended to accelerate the international adoption of Sustainable Building (SB) practices through the promotion of shared methods of building performance assessment and rating.


There is a growing appetite for rating methodologies that can be used to demonstrate the environmental performance of human activities. From personal carbon foot-printing methodologies to sustainability assessments of entire cities and standards, there is a drive to develop more and more rating methods.

Sustainability metrics have the potential to turn the generic concept of sustainability into action. Today, however, the international community is far from achieving this potential. There is currently no standardized set of indicators, and several private corporations are creating their own, suitable for their purposes, while international institutions are still trying to develop a generic indicator for measuring and monitoring sustainable development. The many existing measures vary enormously both in their complexity and in their application. Those which gain attention over the broadest range are for the moment the so called Building environmental assessment tools BEAM that permit a ranking of buildings in terms of ecological performance.

The difficulty then arises that such methods were never designed to be used across multiple countries and often have features with a significant ‘local’ flavour. This explains why comparisons between the systems at an international level are not straightforward.


The objectives of the Sustainable Building Alliance are:

# The establishment of a common core of issues and metrics that should be covered by any assessment system and therefore provide confidence to the users of systems across a number of countries that there is a degree of commonality in approach, and to give them the confidence to use the relevant national scheme without having to back a single system.

# The coordination and sharing of research efforts with the aim of further developing and promoting the environmental assessment and certification of buildings.

# The promotion of the importance of any building assessment system being based on that core but tailored to the local context.

International efforts to harmonization (standards and research)

The field of environmental assessment has mature remarkably quickly since the introduction of BRE's environmental assessment method: BREEAM, and the interim period has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of countries either having, or being in the process of developing a domestic assessment tool. With many countries developing their own system international coordination became an evident field of investment.

In 1997, for example, the International Organisation for Standardisation’s Technical Committee 59 (ISO TC59) - Building Construction resolved to establish an ad hoc group to investigate the need for standardised tools within the field of sustainable building. This subsequently evolved and was formalized as Sub-Committee ISO T59/SC17 – Sustainability in building construction – the scope of which includes the issues that should be taken into account within building environmental assessment methods.

In Europe, under the European Committee for Standardisation's CEN TC350 -Sustainability of Construction Works, a consensus-building process that relates to other standards (ISO) and harmonises existing approaches was launched. These standards shall enable the exchange of sustainability information related to internationally traded products and services

Other intiatives, mainly in the research field, such as CRISP [] , a Four year Eu Funded research program that that had collected and organized in a data base the sustainability indicators already in use and under development in the EU countries, or the the LifeTime/ LifeCycle initiative, whose objective was to integrate the lifetime principles (long term concern) into all life stages of the building and civil infrastructure worksbuilding and civil infrastructure works, and the European thematic network on practical recommendations for sustainable construction, that brought together all parties involved in Building Construction for establishing and transferring into practice sustainability recommendations, have pushed forward the international coordination.

Among these initiative one could be highlighted: the LEnSe project [] , a 6th Framework project co-funded by the EC and completed in March 2008. The project developed a list of key issues that were considered relevant when assessing the sustainability of any building types. The LEnSE framework is intended to cover all aspects of sustainability rather than just focussing on the environmental aspects. The LEnSe project draws on the existing knowledge available in the Union on building assessment methodologies and aimed a methodology development towards a label for environmental, social and economic buidlings in analogy with the Directive on the energy performance of buildings.

International regulatory frameworks

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change []

The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Convention enjoys near universal membership, with 192 countries having ratified.

Under the Convention, governments:

*gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices
*launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries
*cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change

The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994.

UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. The treaty is aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.The treaty as originally framed set no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual nations and contained no enforcement provisions; it is therefore considered legally non-binding. Rather, the treaty included provisions for updates (called "protocols") that would set mandatory emission limits. The principal update is the Kyoto Protocol, which has become much better known than the UNFCCC itself.

The Kyoto Protocol []

) have ratified the agreement (representing over 61.6% of emissions from Annex I countries). The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

European EPBD []

Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings EPBD.

The four key points of the Directive are:

# a common methodology for calculating the integrated energy performance of buildings;
# minimum standards on the energy performance of new buildings and existing buildings that are subject to major renovation;
# systems for the energy certification of new and existing buildings and, for public buildings, prominent display of this certification and other relevant information. Certificates must be less than five years old;
# regular inspection of boilers and central air-conditioning systems in buildings and in addition an assessment of heating installations in which the boilers are more than 15 years old.

International tools

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report []

Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the fourth in a series of such reports. The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change, its potential effects and options for adaptation and mitigation.

UNEP and Climate change []

UNEP works to facilitate the transition to low-carbon societies, support climate proofing efforts, improve understanding of climate change science, and raise public awareness about this global challenge.

GHG Indicator []

The GHG Indicator: UNEP Guidelines for Calculating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Businesses and Non-Commercial Organizations

Agenda 21 []

Agenda 21 is a programme run by the United Nations (UN) related to sustainable development. It is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment. The number 21 refers to the 21st century.


FIDIC’s Project Sustainability Management Guidelines were created in order to assist project engineers and other stakeholders in setting sustainable development goals for their projects that are recognized and accepted by as being in the interests of society as a whole. The process is also intended to allow the alignment of project goals with local conditions and priorities and to assist those involved in managing projects to measure and verify their progress.

The PSM Guidelines are structured with Themes and Sub-Themes under the three main sustainability headings of Social, Environmental and Economic. For each individual Sub-Theme a core project indicator is defined along with guidance as to the relevance of that issue in the context of an individual project.

iiSBE's SBtool []

SBTool, formerly known as GBTool, is designed to assess the environmental and sustainability performance of buildings.SBTool is the software implementation of the Green Building Challenge (GBC) assessment method that has been under development since 1996 by a group of more than a dozen teams. The GBC process was launched by Natural Resources Canada, but responsibility was handed over to the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE) in 2002.

National rating systems

*flagicon|Australia Australia: Nabers [] / Green Star []

*flagicon|Brazil Brazil: AQUA [] / LEED Brasil []

*flagicon|Canada Canada: LEED Canada [] / Green Globe []

*flagicon|China China: GBAS

*flagicon|Finland Finland: PromisE []

*flagicon|France France: HQE []

*flagicon|Germany Germany: DGNB []

*flagicon|Hong Kong Hong Kong: HKBEEM []

*flagicon|India India: LEED India/ TerriGriha

*flagicon|Italy Italy: Protocollo Itaca []

*flagicon|Mexico Mexico: Leed Mexico []

*flagicon|Netherlands Netherlands: BREEAM Netherlands []

*flagicon|Portugal Portugal: Lider A

*flagicon|Singapore Singapore: Green Mark []

*flagicon|Spain Spain: VERDE

*flagicon|United States United States: LEED/Green Globe []

*flagicon|UK United Kingdom: BREEAM []

Overview of other assessment tools and frameworks


CEEQUAL, the Civil Engineering Environmental Quality and Award Scheme, is an assessment and awards scheme for improving sustainability in civil engineering and public realm projects. Its objective is to encourage the attainment of environmental excellence in civil engineering, and thus to deliver improved environmental and social performance in project specification, design and construction.

The system uses a points-scoring-based assessment, which is applicable to any civil engineering or public realm project and includes environmental and social aspects such as the use of water, energy and land, impacts on ecology, landscape, neighbours, archaeology, as well as waste minimisation and management, and community relations and amenity. Awards are made to projects in which the clients, designers and constructors have gone beyond the legal and environmental minima, to achieve distinctive environmental standards of performance.

Assessments are carried out by trained assessors who are responsible for scoping the credit issues to be addressed (in consultation with the CEEQUAL verifier). The assessor then completes the assessment and submits it to the verifier for review and approval. Once the verifier is satisfied with the assessment the CEEQUAL certificate is issued.

EN 15804 (CEN TC350)

The development of EN15804 Sustainability of construction works is currently underway with the majority of sections under development but some under approval. This standard is intended to set out a methodology for the assessment of the sustainability of materials, buildings and construction projects using the Life Cycle Assessment approach.

*Environmental product declarations - Product category rules

*Environmental product declarations - Communication formats

*Environmental product declarations - Methodology and data for generic data

*Description of the building life cycle

*Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation methods

*Integrated assessment of building performance - Part 1: General framework

*Integrated assessment of building performance - Part 2: Framework for the assessment of environmental performance

*Integrated assessment of building performance - Part 3: Framework for the assessment of social performance

*Integrated assessment of building performance - Part 4: Framework for the assessment of economic performance

The development of the standard is due to be completed by the end of 2011.

Global Reporting Initiative

The Global Reporting Initiative's aim is to make the reporting on economic, environmental, and social performance by all organizations is as routine and comparable as financial reporting.

The Sustainability Reporting Framework provides guidance for organizations to use as the basis for disclosure about their sustainability performance, and also provides stakeholders a universally- applicable, comparable framework in which to understand disclosed information.

The Reporting Framework contains the core product of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, as well as Protocols and Sector Supplements. The Guidelines are used as the basis for all reporting. They are the foundation upon which all other reporting guidance is based, and outline core content for reporting that is broadly relevant to all organizations regardless of size, sector, or location. The Guidelines contain principles and guidance as well as standard disclosures – including indicators – to outline a disclosure framework that organizations can voluntarily, flexibly, and incrementally, adopt.

Protocols underpin each indicator in the Guidelines and include definitions for key terms in the indicator, compilation methodologies, intended scope of the indicator, and other technical references.

Sector Supplements respond to the limits of a one-size-fits-all approach. Sector Supplements complement the use of the core Guidelines by capturing the unique set of sustainability issues faced by different sectors such as mining, automotive, banking, public agencies and others.

IPD Environment Code

The IPD Environment Code was launched in February 2008. The Code is intended as a good practice global standard for measuring the environmental performance of corporate buildings. Its aim is to accurately measure and manage the environmental impacts of corporate buildings and enable property executives to generate high quality, comparable performance information about their buildings anywhere in the world. The Code covers a wide range of building types (from offices to airports) and aims to inform and support the following;

*Creating an environmental strategy

*Inputting to real estate strategy

*Communicating a commitment to environmental improvement

*Creating performance targets

*Environmental improvement plans

*Performance assessment and measurement

*Life cycle assessments

*Acquisition and disposal of buildings

*Supplier management

*Information systems and data population

*Compliance with regulations

*Team and personal objectives

IPD estimate that it will take approximately three years to gather significant data to develop a robust set of baseline data that could be used across a typical corporate estate.

ISO 21931

ISO/TS 21931:2006, Sustainability in building construction -- Framework for methods of assessment for environmental performance of construction works -- Part 1: Buildings, is intended to provide a general framework for improving the quality and comparability of methods for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. It identifies and describes issues to be taken into account when using methods for the assessment of environmental performance for new or existing building properties in the design, construction, operation, refurbishment and deconstruction stages. It is not an assessment system in itself but is intended be used in conjunction with, and following the principles set out in, the ISO 14000 series of standards.


Studies and reports

* Comparison of International Environmental Assessment Methods for buildings, BREEAM, 2008. []

* Buildings Can Play A Key Role In Combating Climate Change, UNEP-SBCI, 2008. []

* UNEP DTIE Industry and Environment Review, Sustainable and construction, 2003. [] .

Energy-efficient Buildings & Design:

*J. Baldwin
*Tom Bender
*Peter Calthorpe
*Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies
*The Druk White Lotus School - Ladakh, Indian Himalaya
*William McDonough
*Victor Papanek
*Sim Van der Ryn
*Green Globe
*James Wines
*Ken Yeang
*Eastgate Centre, Harare
*Portcullis House
*YMCA International Camp, Nilshi, India

Energy Usage (Commercial, Residential, Societal):
*Amory Lovins
*Soft energy path

Land Use & Community Planning

*Forest gardening
*Christopher Alexander
*Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies
*Noise barrier


* [ Concept Design Productions] A full-service scenic design company
*Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA)
*UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design

Urban Ecology

*Environmental planning
*Urban ecology
*New Urbanism
*Principles of Intelligent Urbanism

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sustainable Building Alliance — La SB Alliance es una iniciativa internacional sin fines de lucro promovida por la Unesco chair for sustainable Building y la iniciativa edificio y construcción sostenible del PNUMA. LA SB Alliance Sustainable Building Alliance[1] es una red de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sustainable Building Alliance — La Sustainable Building Alliance (SB Alliance[1]) est une initiative internationale sans but lucratif créée en 2008 qui rassemble des centres nationaux de recherche sur le bâtiment, des organismes d évaluation, et des parties prenantes… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) — Motivated by the United Nation’s (UN) decision to declare 2008 as International Year of Sanitation (IYS), a core group of organisations active in the field of sustainable sanitation took the initiative to form a task force to support the IYS. In… …   Wikipedia

  • Sustainable architecture — Sustainable architecture, is a general term that describes environmentally conscious design techniques in the field of architecture. Sustainable architecture is framed by the larger discussion of sustainability and the pressing economic and… …   Wikipedia

  • Sustainable sanitation — Background for the sanitation dilemma The urgency for action in the sanitation sector is obvious, considering the 2.6 billion people world wide who remain without access to any kind of improved sanitation, and the 2.2 million annual deaths… …   Wikipedia

  • Building insulation materials — A selection of insulation materials can aid in building insulation. All of these are based on standard principles of thermal insulation. Materials used to reduce heat transfer by conduction, radiation or convection are employed in varying… …   Wikipedia

  • Sustainable energy — Renewable energy …   Wikipedia

  • Sustainable transport — A subtopic of: Sustainability Also relevant …   Wikipedia

  • Alliance to Save Energy — The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition consisting largely of industrial, technological, and energy corporations. The Alliance states that its mission is to support energy efficiency as a cost effective energy resource under existing market… …   Wikipedia

  • Building information modeling — (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle[1]. BIM involves representing a design as objects – vague and undefined, generic or product specific, solid shapes or void space oriented (like the shape of a… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.