A better environment begins with steel

A better environment begins with steel

A better environment begins with steel

A better environment begins with steel

A better environment begins with steel


Block 31 Car Park, Almere (Mei architects and urban planners)

In the Netherlands there is currently no standard for measuring the environmental impact of construction and buildings. But developments are taking place. The MRPI Foundation (MRPI ~ EPD) is working on an update of the EPD protocol for the supply of environmental data by manufacturers. This data will be incorporated in the National Database. This brings together all the environmental data for (construction) materials for use in software programs such as Greencalc+, Dubocalc and in the web tool GPR Gebouw. Use in GPR Gebouw means that assessments at the building level will be based on the same data. The EPD data for steel will soon be incorporated in the database.


The European Commission has placed sustainability and environmental performance on the political agenda. In the near future quantitative criteria will be incorporated in laws and regulations. To this end, the Construction Products Directive (CPD) provides for seven Basic Work Requirements:

  1. Mechanical resistance and stability (this includes the Eurocodes for construction);
  2. Safety in case of fire;
  3. Hygiene, health and the environment;
  4. Safety in use;
  5. Protection against noise;
  6. Energy economy and heat retention and
  7. Sustainable use of natural resources (this is a new requirement, specifically focused on sustainability).

Basic work requirement 7 has led to the formation of standards committee CEN/TC350. This committee will develop standards to quantify the concept of sustainability. The CEN/TC350 methodology can be characterised as follows:

  1. Develop an indicator (e.g. CO2);
  2. Develop a calculation method;
  3. Develop a communication format for business to business communication.

What CEN TC/350 explicitly does not do is develop a weighting and/or rating system. These are political choices. More specifically the CEN/TC350 mandate - The Concept of Sustainability Assessment - looks like this:

The CEN/TC350 mandate for the development of a European standard for sustainability

Naar analogie van Planet, People, Profit, bestaat het assessment van CEN/TC350 uit drie onderdelen:

  • ENV: environment (green in the figure)
  • SOC: social (red)
  • ECON: economical (blue)

The Environment component is for the most part complete and will probably become operational in 2011. A series of European standards has already been developed, which are directly relevant for the determination of the environmental impact of materials in buildings. These are:

  • EN 15804: Sustainability of Construction Works - Environmental Product Declarations - Core rules for construction products;
  • EN 15978: Sustainability of Construction Works - Assessment of environmental performance of buildings - Calculation method;
  • EN 15942: Sustainability of Construction Works - Communication format for B-to-B.

EN 15804 and EN 15978 both use an LCA approach. These standards describe how and what indicators shall be determined for the building material or building product. The indicators are:

Indicator Name Unit
Greenhouse effect GWP kg CO2 equivalents
Ozone layer depletion ODP kg CFC 11 equivalents
Acidification AP kg SO2- equivalents
Over fertilisation EP kg (PO4)3- equivalents
Photochemical oxidants (smog) POCP kg Ethylene equivalents
Abiotic raw material exhaustion ADP_e kg Sb equivalents
Abiotic fuel exhaustion ADP_f MJ/kg Sb equivalents