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Bæredygtighedsklassen: a new measure to decarbonise construction in Denmark

Denmark has set a national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors by 70% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. As a significant contributor to the country’s overall emissions, the construction sector has a clear responsibility to ensure that this target is met. To help the construction industry transition to more sustainable practices, Bolig- og Planstyrelsen, the Danish Agency for Housing and Planning, has introduced Bæredygtighedsklassen or the sustainability class. Find out how this will work in practical terms here.

About the Sustainability Class or Bæredygtighedsklassen

The sustainability class is composed of a series of sustainability requirements which exceed those currently specified by the Danish national building regulations. Its aim is to promote three core dimensions of sustainable construction: the environmental, social and economic.

  • Environmental: the impact on nature, the environment, the climate and natural resources
  • Social: relating to impacts on human health and wellbeing
  • Economic: maintaining a balance between construction cost and quality

Although currently voluntary, where requirements of the Sustainability Class have not been met, it will be necessary to provide the relevant documentation and an accompanying commentary to explain why. After an initial two-year voluntary introductory phase, in 2023, the Sustainability Class requirements are expected to become a mandatory part of Danish national building regulations.

LCA for new buildings

The Sustainability Class recognises the importance of addressing embodied carbon in construction, as well as operational emissions. A core requirement is that a life-cycle assessment (LCA) must be performed for all new buildings. After 2023, it will become mandatory to measure LCA for all new buildings over 1000m2.

The Sustainability Class requires that the LCA is performed and submitted twice:

  1. An initial LCA should be submitted when applying for a building permit.
  2. Once the project is completed and final decisions have been made, the assessment should be revised and the final LCA submitted when completing building registration.

The LCA guidance provided by the Danish Agency for Housing and Planning makes it clear that specific product data provided via Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) is preferred over generic data. In addition the potential for reuse, recycling and recovery should also be included in the LCA.

Calculations consider a 50 year calculation period and the assessment includes A1-A5, B4, B6, C3, C4, and D stages.

By the end of 2023, stricter impact thresholds will be defined based on the data collected during the introductory period and new limits will apply from 2025. A similar revision is scheduled to take place in 2027 and be implemented in 2029.

How can One Click LCA help you comply with Bæredygtighedsklassen?

One Click LCA enables project teams to work with carbon optioneering in early design stages and boost efficiency through integration with BIM.

The One Click LCA database provides access to all construction product EPDs and benchmarks that help users identify the top performing materials. If a specific product EPD is not available, the One Click LCA platform enables users to contact product manufacturers directly to request an EPD.

As the carbon limit thresholds come into force from 2023 onwards, One Click LCA tools can help teams to identify and reduce areas of high impact from an early stage of the process.

One Click LCA has previously been verified by the Danish Building Research Institute (SBi) for the DGNB-DK certification. A new One Click LCA tool that will comply with the Bæredygtighedsklassen requirements will be launched during 2021.

Construction carbon regulation across the Nordics

The Bæredygtighedsklassen joins other measures taken by Nordic countries to reduce the carbon footprint of construction, as summarised below.

Sverige

Danmark

Finland

Norge

Iceland

Climate Declaration mandatory from 2022 Calculation mandatory from 2023 Direct introduction of carbon footprint limits Mandatory for public buildings since 2018 Regulations under consideration
Limit values for carbon footprint from 2027 Limits for >1000 m2 from 2023, rest 2025 Scheduled by 2025 Cities are introducing requirements as well
Method: Boverket Method: TBST Method: Min. Env. Method: NS 3720

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