Sustainable building certification standards are immense influencers on not only the built environment sector but also commercial, industrial and domestic green lifestyles. With that influence comes a real responsibility in establishing the current direction of travel for the industry against a backdrop of climate, economic and social change.
Get it right, and we move closer to addressing major climate change issues, attaining carbon reduction targets and achieving ecologically, economically and socially just goals. Get it wrong and the negative impact ripples far beyond our built environment sector.
It is the purpose of ‘regenerative’ certification schemes not only to identify best practice requirements for design, construction and operation, but to go way beyond current best practices and establish a vision for sustainable buildings based on future requirements — with practice then measured against that vision.
FutuREstorative Working Towards a New Sustainability makes the case for regenerative building standards, using the Living Building Challenge, Well Build Standard, One Planet Living and The Natural Step as examples. Encouragingly, news of the 2017 DGNB System update, the result of an intensive internal review, could well now join that the regenerative sustainability standards family.
The following are extracts and comments are from a DGNB System update release, illustrating its proposed alignment with current regenerative sustainability theme:
Sustainability should not be an add-on or nice-to-have. Instead, it should be seen as an integral part of every building project. Given the number of global challenges we now face and the demands of climate change, it will become increasingly important for everyone to face up to the key topics of sustainability, especially when it comes to implementing different aspects in practice. Paying lip service to sustainability or reacting simply because it looks good for marketing purposes will no longer be accepted
Health and Wellbeing: We build for ourselves – for people who spend most of their lives in buildings. This intrinsically means that people and their need for health and wellbeing must therefore be the lynch pin – the point around which everything revolves when making all the decisions that influence planning and building
Circular Economy: When selecting the materials to be used in a building it is necessary to consider that one day it may be disassembled or reclaimed. The DGNB certification system thus plays an important role in ensuring that material cycles are put in place so that products can be re-used or reclaimed, along the lines of cradle-to-cradle principles.
The DGNB System is therefore the first of its kind to make circular economy principles an assessable and measurable aspect of buildings. To promote the use of new methods, such solutions are rewarded with bonuses, in turn having a positive impact on certification outcomes.
Positive Contribution: The DGNB sees design quality and Baukultur (architectural culture) as a central aspect of sustainable building. Version 2017 …looks more closely at any factors that consider a building’s contribution to its … environment.
Sustainable Development Goals: In 2016, the United Nations issued its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of specific and meaningful targets aimed at shaping the future development of our planet, encouraging people to think again and thus paving the way for life in a sustainable world. The DGNB supports the UN objectives and wants to encourage others to make a tangible and positive contribution to achieving these targets through certification. All projects that achieve DGNB certification in future will also include a statement on the extent to which they contribute towards fulfilling the SDGs
Life cycle assessment of entire buildings. This is captured in the DGNB System in accordance with EU standards and ranges from how materials are produced to final deconstruction. It’s important that scientifically defined benchmarks are used to calculate and optimise impacts on the environment.
Innovation: It is the DGNB’s goal to promote new thinking and a willingness to step outside comfort zones. It was this underlying thought that resulted in a new instrument being added to the criteria contained in Version 2017: Innovation Capacities. With immediate effect, many of the criteria have been defined in a way that should motivate planners to pursue the best possible and the most sensible solutions for their project.
Related: A case for reconstructing the world of sustainable building standards