LCBI: A unified approach to measure building carbon footprint
LCBI: A unified approach to measure building carbon footprint

LCBI: A unified approach to measure building carbon footprint

LCBI has launched its European whole life-cycle carbon methodology and certification scheme for low carbon buildings in 8 countries.

It represents a major advancement in standardizing carbon measurement and promoting decarbonization in the European real estate sector.

The LCBI certification scheme will highlight exemplary low carbon buildings.

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 real estate sector, responsible for nearly 39% of global CO2 emissions1 , is crucial in the battle against global warming. To meet the 2050 carbon neutrality goal, European countries must reduce the carbon footprint of all buildings—new, retrofitted, and in-use.

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 to understand and compare building carbon footprints has been lacking. Addressing this, the LCBI has developed a unique methodology to measure building carbon footprints across their entire lifecycle, with limit values, basis of a certification scheme for low-carbon buildings. This method aligns with major European standards and tools (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 highlighting 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 them multiple benefits:

  • For project owners, it functions as a low-carbon design tool, and 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.

1 2019 Global Status report for buildings and construction, International Energy Agency

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About Low Carbon Building Initiative

The Low Carbon Building Initiative (LCBI), launched in 2022, unites major European real-estate stakeholders to promote low carbon buildings and reduce the CO2 emissions of European real estate by half (measured in a Life-Cycle Analysis). To date LCBI sponsors include AXA IM Alts, Bouygues Immobilier, BNP Paribas Real Estate, BPI Real Estate, Covivio, Generali Real Estate, Icamap, Ivanhoe Cambridge, NSI, WO2. The group is active across the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany. LCBI aims to create the first pan-European low carbon label measuring the carbon footprint of real estate based on a Life-Cycle Analysis. LCBI set up a scientific committee with experts and certifiers to work on the first version of the LCBI label. Artelia and Elioth are co-pilots of the scientific committee, which also includes the French Association BBCA, One Click LCA and Drees & Sommer. Bureau Veritas is the preferred certifier for the future label, expected by early 2024

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About BPI Real Estate

BPI Real Estate is the real estate division of the multidisciplinary group CFE, founded in 1880 and active in Belgium, Luxembourg and Poland in 4 business lines with strong growth potential because they have the potential to shape the world of tomorrow: real estate design and development, multitechnics, construction and renovation and sustainable investments. With a wealth of expertise acquired over the past 35 years, BPI Real Estate's ambition is to challenge the status quo and bring about positive change in real estate development in order to deploy innovative, inclusive and eco-responsible urban planning aimed at increasing the well-being of future generations. BPI Real Estate develops this know-how in the residential, office, retail, services and special products sectors. The company also brings its expertise in real estate design and development to Wood Shapers,a Belgian and Luxembourg company launched at the end of 2019 by BPI Real Estate and CFE Contracting (both part of the CFE group) that focuses primarily on the development, design and sustainable construction of wood and prefabricated materials.

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