2nd CESBA SPRINT Workshop


I have been at the 2nd CESBA SPRINT Workshop  in Turin, Italy at the 1st of July, 2014.

There were a lot of  actors dealing with the assessment of the sustainability of our built environment. They had shared their ideas for a harmonization of assessment systems, create new project ideas and network. I worked in  the Group 4″ Roadmap for assessment harmonization” .

CESBA stands for Common European Sustainable Building Assessment and is a common initiative towards promoting a harmonization of sustainable building assessments for public buildings throughout Europe. The inducement of CESBA is the perception of the variety of sustainable building certification systems in European regions and the need to find a common framework for building assessments.

The CESBA initiative started in 2011 when actors from different EU projects found that the high number of building assessment systems in Europe were leading to proliferation, confusion among the actors and to a very fragmented sustainable construction market. The vision of CESBA is: A Europe where a high quality living in a sustainable built environment is the common standard practice’ .

The goals of CESBA are:

  1. Collective, holistic approach towards European building assessment through harmonized indicators
  2. Support of initiatives for user friendly incentive systems, regulations and laws
  3. Dissemination of CESBA through approved processes (e.g. trainings)
  4. Certifications harmonized by CESBA reach a high number of constructions in Europe.

The CESBA cycle encompasses the tools, services, core assessment indicators and steps of the building life cycle that represent CESBA.

The  phases look  very similar to the advide service offered by MountEE project.

Step 1: Purpose and Traget definition
During the stage of the target definition it is important to raise the awareness on a sustainable built environment among the actors involved. First, it has to be decided if a new house is built or if an existing building is refurbished. Here it is important to weigh the different aspects of sustainability. Indeed, a new building needs less energy and provides more comfort. But still, the procurement of materials and the construction process itself highly influence the energy balance. Sometimes, a refurbishment turns out to be more sustainable. Also, other basic questions have to be answered: How can we finance the project? Are there subventions or funding that we can use? What is the best location for a new building? How can an old building be refurbished sustainably? What is the general procedure? To answer all these questions, the different aspects of sustainability are the decision base.

Step 2: Design Tendering and Architectural Competition
It is important to clearly define the goals of sustainability in the call for a public tender for the participating architects. Only with a detailed predefinition of the framework conditions, all submitted concepts will be sustainable. It has to be considered that the criteria should not constrain the creativity of the architects; else, there is the danger of a small number of architects participating in the tender and innovative, creative as well as visionary concepts might get lost. The main goal of every architectural competition is to find the best solution for a special project. National and regional standards have to be followed. For choosing the best concept, the jury should consist of experts on sustainable construction and refurbishment.

Step 3: Planning Process
A well-made planning of a building or refurbishment project is a crucial factor for its sustainability in the subsequent life cycle stages. All actors involved in the planning process should meet regularly stage and exchange their views. By comparing different drafts, the sustainability of the project can be optimized. For example, costs can be reduced. Within refurbishment projects, the actors can collaboratively determine further measurements that increase the sustainability of the building. Furthermore, an appropriate certification method has to be chosen during the planning stage

Step 4: Procurement of Products and Services
This step of the Building Life Cycle deals with the acquisition of building materials and related services. The effects of many conventional building materials materials on the environment and the quality of life are negative, It is therefore important to pay attention to a consistent sustainable choice of building materials. Sustainable building materials have a long lifetime, consist of renewable resources that are managed sustainably; their production requires minor energy and the materials have a short distance to travel to the construction site. Furthermore, sustainable building materials are not harmful and recyclable.

Step 5: Implementation and Building Process
Even if all sustainability aspects have been complied ideally within the first four stages of the building life cycle, at the construction site suddenly unexpected problems can occur.

Step 6: Commissioning of a Building
As soon as a building project is closed, planners, building engineers, architects and craftsmen  leave the construction site. They hand the building over to a facility management and users who have not been involved in the prior planning and construction process at all. Therefore, both facility managers and users have to be informed extensively about how to use the building adequately. If  the handover and commission process does not run smoothly, a low satisfaction level of the users is bound to occur. This leads to a decreasing general acceptance of a sustainable building culture. The commission process can last more than a year, taking into account the various challenges  that occur with different seasons. During this process, the facility management has to be introduced to the correct operation of the facilities.  The building users need instructions, too, and if comfort losses occur, they need contact persons. The facilities should match the needs of the users and individual adjustments should be possible.

Step 7: Monitoring/usage
All parties involved need to know how to use the building correctly. Monitoring is important to ensure the sustainability of the building.

Building assessments harmonized by CESBA 

Currently, there are more than 80 building assessment tools in Europe. Those assessment tools are not comparable and lead to export burdens for SMEs as well as profusion among the actors of the sustainable construction market. There is indeed a clear need for the harmonization of those building assessment tools CESBA aims at this harmonization by the following measures:

  • Holistic approach to building and neighbourhood assessment
  • Establishment and discussion of common European Key performance indicators for harmonized indicators
  • Definition of further Reference performance indicators that can be included in the assessment of buildings and their neighbourhoods
  • Depiction of different assessment systems
  • The CESBA generic tool
  • The CESBA Circle

Other informations can be found at this link:


Angela Sanchini (ARES)

Author: Angela Sanchini (ARES)

I am an architect and i'm actually the Technical Director of ARES Regional Agency for Sustainable Building of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (Italy). I am dealing with energy efficiency and sustainability in buildings, and in particular of energy performance certificates and energy-environmental assessment of buildings.

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