Blog 6 - Interview with DGNB - Translating the language of sustainable buildings into reality

Blog 6 - Interview with DGNB - Translating the language of sustainable buildings into reality
By Laura Croze on April 24, 2018

Anna Braune is on a mission. A mission to help everyone speak the language of sustainable building fluently. It’s not easy. In many parts of Europe, discussing sustainability issues across the entire life cycle of a building doesn’t always translate into reality.

Still, Dr Braune is an optimist, and she is determined to start crucial conversations through her work as DGNB’s Director of Research and Development and with the help of initiatives such as the European Commission’s Level(s) sustainable building initiative which includes our new Knauf Insulation Experience Center in Slovenia.

“I want sustainable construction to become the new normal, but first we have to speak the same language first,” she says. “If we discuss how much carbon is embodied in a building, for example, we all have to use the same metrics, the same values, the same indicators whichever country we are in.”

Level(s) is a pilot scheme that aims to establish the scope of these measurements by focusing on key sustainable building indicators including resource use, indoor comfort, water use, energy efficiency or contributions to climate change.

Dr Braune was closely involved in the conception phase of Level(s) and DGNB’s criteria runs through the core of the initiative particularly its focus on the environmental, economic and social impact of buildings throughout their entire life cycle.

Knauf Insulation shares this view and takes a full life cycle approach to its products examining their impact from the cradle to the grave through Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Product Declarations.

Meanwhile, in Slovenia our new Experience Center has been selected to contribute research data to Level(s) and will be the first DGNB certified building in the country.

“Buildings such as this help start a meaningful conversation with policy-makers, planners and architects about what a sustainable building can be,” says Dr Braune. “It demonstrates in reality, for instance, that taking a full life cycle approach is not expensive because, ultimately, the long-term benefits far, far, outweigh the initial expense.”

Dr Braune believes that buildings contributing research to the Level(s) initiative across Europe — such as the Knauf Insulation Experience Center — will help enable workshops, discussions and meetings with stakeholders from policy makers to architects. “The initiative is already bringing people together and this will help us to establish what we have to do with our buildings to achieve major future objectives such as long term resource efficiency, carbon reduction, tackling climate change or creating buildings that contribute to comfort.”

Equally important is helping policy makers to understand the critical significance of a building’s impact over its entire life cycle and providing the indicators to measure this impact.

“Level(s) offers an effective measurement of six critical indicators across the entire life cycle of a building and provides a language of sustainable building that can be easily shared and understood. This is a new concept for many people,” says Dr Braune.

“The fact that DGNB’s criteria runs through the heart of Level(s) shows that we take the same holistic approach as the European Commission regarding the impact of buildings across their entire life cycle. Those who use our rating system are effectively in line with Level(s) and ultimately future-proofing their buildings.”