Low carbon construction policies in the Nordic countries
All the Nordic countries have ambitions to mitigate the climate changes by reducing the total amount of carbon emissions. Reductions in the building sector are a key element in achieving these targets. LCA of buildings is therefore quickly gaining ground in the Nordic countries as the method assesses the whole life climate emissions of buildings. As you can read below, all the Nordic countries are developing methods and investigating how to include this in the national building regulations.
In spring 2023, Norway initiated a climate partnership with stakeholders from the construction sector. The goal is to develop a knowledge base through workshops. From summer 2023, it became mandatory to use the Norwegian standard NS 370:2018 for Green House Gas (GHG) emission calculation from construction. The GHG calculation should include LCA phases A1-A3, A4, B2, B4 and waste from construction sites.
In Norway they also have a focus on reducing fossil fuel regarding construction and housing. In addition, products suitable for reuse and material recovery shall be chosen over others. Lastly, from July 2023 buildings must be designed and built with subsequent dismantling in mind as far as possible.
Finland plans to introduce a new construction act from January 1st 2025 which will include Whole Life Carbon regulation. The act seeks to lower carbon in construction and requires life cycle assessments and material declarations, incl. buildings components and origin of construction materials. The Whole Life Carbon limit values will include LCA phases A1-A5, B1-B8 and C1-C4 accounted for 50 years life span.
In January 2022, Sweden implemented climate declarations for new buildings where developers are responsible for declaring climate impact for all products in LCA phases A1-A5. However, single family houses and buildings below 1000 square meters are excluded.
This summer, the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning proposed limit values for GHG emission from 2025 to the Swedish government. They also proposed extended limit values from 2027 with full life cycle phases and the same building elements. You can read about Sweden’s proposal for limit values in 2025 here.
In Iceland, they have made a Roadmap to Sustainable Construction which sets 74 actions and goals for 2030. Furthermore, Iceland expects to introduce limit values for climate impact of buildings during 2024. Read about the Icelandic roadmap here.
Denmark introduced climate declarations and limit values for climate impact of buildings in January 2023. Furthermore, Denmark expects to tighten these limit values in 2025. Learn more about Denmark’s climate requirements here.
Which life cycle stages are included in which Nordic country?
This tabel illustrates the included life-cycle modules (according to standard EN15978) in the current introduced or proposed national building LCA models in each Nordic country and in Level(s). The darker blue indicates what is already implemented or will be implemented, while the lighter blue indicates proposed scope of future regulation.
Read more about the Nordic harmonisation of Life cycle assessments here