Making Sustainability Measurable
It is characterised by the comprehensive consideration of the entire life cycle – taking into account ecological, economic and socio-cultural quality as well as technical aspects and processes.
The aim of sustainable building is to protect general goods such as the environment, resources, health, culture and capital. The classic three dimensions of sustainability – ecology, economy and socio-cultural aspects – are derived from these goods, against which the quality of buildings must also be measured. In addition, technical qualities as well as the process quality are to be considered, which as cross-sectional qualities have an influence on all partial aspects of sustainability.
Dimension of Sustainable Building Columns and Cross Sectional Qualities (Source: BBSR)
The BNB enables a holistic view and evaluation of sustainability aspects over the entire life cycle. The primary objective is not the optimisation of individual aspects, but rather the holistic optimisation of buildings and outdoor facilities. In addition to the final evaluation and documentation of the building quality actually achieved, the BNB also serves as a quality assurance and control tool for planning and construction. An initial catalogue of criteria for the holistic consideration and evaluation of sustainability aspects for buildings was developed by the Federal Building Ministry - scientifically accompanied by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) – in a two-year cooperative effort with the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). The assessment methods and basis were primarily developed for buildings in Germany on the basis of existing regulations.
The evaluation system is continuously being developed further - based on current research results and taking into account changes in legal regulations. Updates are published via this portal in the News section.
System Variants and Modules
In principle, the dimensions, principles and qualities of sustainable building apply equally to all building types and life cycle phases. Depending on the type of building, however, use-specific features must be taken into account in the planning and sustainability assessment.
For selected types of buildings and uses, the BNB therefore has system variants in place in order to be able to specifically take the corresponding requirements into account in the sustainability assessment. With a few exceptions, the system variants consider the same criteria, but are adapted to the particularities of use if necessary. Currently, system variants are available for Office and Administration Buildings, Educational Buildings, Laboratory Buildings, as well as Outdoor Facilities.
A building and its usage and operating processes can be subjected to a sustainability assessment several times over its life cycle. For this purpose, the three BNB modules New Construction, Complete Refurbishment and Use and Operation were developed in accordance with the structure of the Guideline for Sustainable Building. The corresponding criteria are already fully available for some system variants, such as office buildings, while for others they are still being developed.
Processes and Responsibilities
If possible, the BNB’s sustainability criteria should be used as a basis for agreed upon targets for the construction project until the preliminary planning stage. In this way, the BNB can be used as an instrument for quality assurance until completion and the implementation of the defined sustainability aspects can be confirmed by a conformity check. The necessary advice and compilation of the documentation is provided by sustainability coordinators who have completed additional training.
The Federal Building Ministry has issued decrees regulating the application of the Guideline for Sustainable Building and the BNB for construction measures within its area of responsibility. This is implemented by BNB sustainability coordinators within the Federal Building Administration or alternatively by external coordinators.
The Guideline and the BNB may also be used free of charge by other developers such as federal states, municipalities or the private sector as a basis for setting targets and making assessments. For these projects, there is the possibility of a review of the qualities achieved and the distribution of awards by separate system operators / certification offices.