The Low Carbon Building Initiative (LCBI) has launched the first pan-European methodology and certification scheme for whole life-cycle carbon measurement of buildings, with set limit values.

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Hélène GENIN

145 Last modified by the author on 07/02/2024 - 10:45
The Low Carbon Building Initiative (LCBI) has launched the first pan-European methodology and certification scheme for whole life-cycle carbon measurement of buildings, with set limit values.

Press release - January 25th, 2024 The Low Carbon Building Initiative (LCBI) has launched the first pan-European methodology for whole life-cycle carbon measurement of buildings, with set limit values, aiming to cut the buildings’ carbon footprint by half. The LCBI certification scheme will highlight exemplary low carbon buildings.

The Low Carbon Building Initiative (LCBI) has launched its European whole life-cycle carbon methodology and certification scheme for low carbon buildings in eight countries - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.  It represents a major advancement in standardizing carbon measurement and promoting decarbonization in the European real estate sector.

LCBI: A Unified Approach to measure Carbon Footprints of buildings

The real estate sector, responsible for nearly 39% of global CO2 emissions, is crucial in the battle against global warming. Thus, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, all European countries need to reduce the carbon footprint of new, retrofitted, and in-use buildings.

Initial efforts focused on lowering energy use in existing buildings and transitioning to carbon-free energy. However, accurately measuring carbon emissions at every life-cycle stage—production, construction, operation, and demolition—is essential for a comprehensive climate impact assessment of buildings.

To date, a unified European method allowing us to understand and compare building carbon footprints has been lacking. Addressing this, LCBI has developed a unique method to measure carbon footprints of buildings across their entire lifecycle, with limit values, basis of a certification scheme for low-carbon buildings. This method also aligns with major European standards (Taxonomy, Level(s), CRREM, RICS).

Publicly available on LCBI website, this unified European methodology simplifies the quantification and comparison of building carbon footprints, fostering decarbonization across Europe.

Launched in 2022 by major players in the European real estate sector alongside the Association Bâtiment Bas Carbone (BBCA, established in 2015), LCBI first focuses on newbuilt: offices, residential, and hotels. Its broader objective is to encompass all real estate categories, targeting new, retrofit and in-use buildings.

Arnaud Regout, President of LCBI Advisory Committee, Chief Investment Officer BPI Real Estate: “Commitment of LCBI stakeholders was key to build this innovative tool, now accessible to entire real-estate sector in Europe.  As the first pan European low-carbon methodology, LCBI will facilitate performance benchmarking of carbon footprints for all.

Such harmonization will provide a powerful signal to the market and help to unlock further private sector investment in low carbon buildings”.

LCBI method and limit values: basis for a Certification Scheme for low carbon buildings

Considering the entire life cycle, the LCBI certification scheme assesses building’s performance on three indicators:

  • embodied carbon (emissions of building elements) measured in kgCO2e/m² over 50 years
  • operational carbon (based on energy consumption and sources) measured in kgCO2e/m²/year
  • biogenic carbon stored (use of bio-based materials) in the building measured in kg CO2e/m²

To define access to the 3 levels of the label (Standard, Performance, Excellent), each of those indicators are rated on two criteria:

  • Completeness of the Life Cycle Analysis
  • Achievement of carbon emission thresholds

This innovative matrix rating fosters transparency and allows to compare buildings carbon footprints.

LCBI certification scheme is a means to position life-cycle carbon footprint at the core of real-estate players strategy. It offers multiple benefits:

  • For project owners, it functions as a low-carbon design tool, and as a means to highlight exemplary low-carbon buildings.
  • For investors, LCBI provides access to consistent and reliable data on the whole life-cycle carbon footprint of buildings, serving as reliable indicator for investment.

Bureau Veritas is set to be the first auditor for the LCBI certification scheme. Project owners interested in obtaining it should contact the certifier directly. The certification process includes two stages: a provisional certificate is issued during the design phase, and the final certification is awarded upon the completion of construction works.

A Product of Collective Expertise and Experimentation

Coordinated by the Technical Commission - led by Artelia and Elioth, by Egis - LCBI is the culmination of a two-year collaborative work that achieved consensus on a unified approach. BBCA expertise, benchmarking work, expert reviews with over fifty Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) practitioners from private and public sector - including teams from the European Commission - and a testing phase on 16 pilot projects across Europe, enabled a critical review of the LCBI method during a consultation phase.

Concurrently, substantial work was carried out on building datasets to establish the common thresholds of the LCBI Certification Scheme.  

This great achievement would not have been possible without the support of LCBI sponsors: AXA IM Alts, BNP Paribas Real Estate, Bouygues Immobilier, BPI Real Estate, Covivio, GENERALI Real Estate, ICAMAP, Ivanhoé Cambridge, NSI, WO2, as well as partners from the pilot phase.

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