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SB-Tool has been chosen by REGAIN partners as a continuous evaluation method of the projets, with regard to their environmental performance. This performance takes into account about a hundred of criteria concerning energy, environment, costs, indoor comfort, etc.

SB-Tool is as transparent as possible about criteria, their assessment related to local context and their mutual weighting.

SB-Tool is used by all the REGAIN partners for the evaluation of the building they design, and then build, at all the project stages, i.e. from the conception untill the use period of the building as built.

Is it enough to install photovoltaic panels to deliver a sustainable building ?

These are the type of questions designers, builders, local authorities and anyone involved in designing constructing and evaluating sustainable buildings often have to address.

There is no straightforward response. Sustainability must be evaluated as a function of a number of criteria; energy is one of the principal elements, but there are several other factors which contribute to the environmental balance sheet, for example water consumption, materials selection, and integration into the landscape to name but a few.

Furthermore, the same construction methods can produce different results depending on location. For example the use of certain technologies such as solar energy and wind turbines, allows sustainable criteria to be achieved by different means of implementation on the Mediterranean coast or in the British isles. Among the local aspects to consider, there are laws and regulations in operation which can demand or suggest particular standards or funding opportunities.

Among the project objectives for REGAIN, is the delivery in four different areas of North-West Europe (Scotland, Belgium, France and Wales) of four commercial/industrial buildings with high levels of environmental performance, in order to compare and make available the results of their experiences to the local, national and European communities.

To achieve this objective, the first stage of the project is the choice of a methodology which allows the assessment of the pilot buildings and to compare the individual levels of performance achieved.

In recent years, different methodologies for evaluating sustainable buildings have been adopted. Most of these are based exclusively on criteria relating to energy, and don’t consider these together with the wider aspects of environmental evaluation.

A European Methodology

Others assessment methods only have value on a national or regional level and are poorly adapted to being applied outside the limits for which they were created - it is not possible to directly compare the results of different national assessment schemes.
It is for this reason that for the REGAIN initiative, the instrument chosen for evaluation, was SBTOOL (Sustainable Building Tool) which is usable outside the design, control and occupation phases; and was devised under the framework of the International Green Building Challenge, which saw the participation of international organisations and institutions with the greatest expertise in this field.

This instrument, along with others, offers the following advantages :

  • It has been developed and monitored in the framework of an international process which has seen the participation of 25 countries.
  • It allows inclusion of energy analysis, but also evaluation of the wider social and environmental aspects (e.g. materials, construction techniques, comfort for occupants etc).
  • The methodology can be applied to any type of building.
  • It considers the entire lifespan of the building - design, construction, occupancy and demolition.
  • It can be applied irrespective of the geographical and regulatory context, no matter what the local construction practices are.
  • It forces the assessor to consider the national or regional context in which the building will exist. It is more complex than some other tools, but allows future use of the building to be taken into consideration.
  • The software is completely free.
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