Self Sustaining Building
Self Sustaining Building


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SSB worked on developing an Eco Rating Tool to achieve a Green Apple Award

The quest for an Eco-rating tool for better Design and Build. 


There is an increasing need to improve decision making for sustainable design & build approaches for a Circular Economy whilst simultaneously closing three key ‘gaps’ in construction - Performance, Affordability and Environmental impacts.  Current tools are jjust not up tp the job and don’t integrate the essential fundamentals to achieve this aim.


To tackle the problem, Self-Sustaining Building (SSB) worked with New Sustainable Building Model Ltd (NSBM) to develop an Eco-Efficiency framework based on SSB fundamentals and  criteria. The Framework is more than just the carbon equivalent (CO2e) assessments of buildings in operation or embodied energy. The approach was validated in a residential retrofit project and with separate modelling using a NSBM building prototype.  Modelling comparisons were made against Passivhaus standard and Building Regulations to confirm a Passivhaus standard and EnerPHit certification could be achieved.  Energy, CO2 emissions and running costs reductions were identified of at least 50% and 40% for each certification against UK Building Regulations.  


Based on these validations of the Eco-Efficiency framework, the architecture for an Eco-rating tool was developed in collaboration with Circular Ecology Ltd.  The tool integrates an assessment of quantitative and qualitative criteria for a large number of environmental indicators at the product and building component level to allow up to 2 buildings to be compared side by side.


The quantitative indicators currently used in the tool are product data inputs from EN 15804 Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). The product data is integrated for the building elements (e.g., an external wall). The tool then allows a building level assessment by bringing together the building elements for an assessment of a whole building. Links at the whole building level connect back to the product and building elements to ensure tool fidelity for any alterations and adjustments during product selection.


To cover any data not available in EPDs, and information for Circular Economy assessments and the closure of the aforementioned threes construction ‘gaps’, a range of qualitative indicators were included in the tool for completeness.  The quantitative indicators are normalised and equal to the average impact of 1 EU citizen in 1 year (people emission equivalent). The assessment scoring for the tool is not dissimilar to the BRE Eco-point approach but the significant difference is the NSBM tool makes  a more realistic and holistic assessment of all substantial sustainability issues impacting on people, the community and the planet including signposts on how to close the three gaps in construction.


Development of the Eco -rating tool was recognised with a Green Apple award in April 2015. The SSB Programme was pleased to make a major contribution to this success and will now be using the tool on its own projects.

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