The construction sector plays a key role in the ambitious, green transition goals of the Nordic countries. Construction emits a large amount of greenhouse gases, and multiple resources are spent throughout the lifetime of each building. Therefore, an effective way to lower the climate and environmental impact of the construction sector is currently discussed amongst the Nordic countries and across Europe.
This discussion creates an opportunity to share knowledge and experience across countries and to consider each other’s calculation methods and legislation within climate impact of buildings. This impact is typically measured through life cycle assessment (LCA).
We, in Nordic Sustainable Construction, feed into this collaboration in a new project. The project aims to raise comparability and compatibility of the technical calculation of LCA and limit values for climate impact of buildings across the Nordic countries.
To do this, the project will map the different Nordic calculation methods and legislation for setting limit values for LCA of buildings. By identifying differences and similarities, the projects will suggest potential areas for higher Nordic comparability of limit values and LCA. The goal is to make it easier for the Nordic construction sector to compare limit values and LCA calculation across countries despite differences.
The project was procured by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, who is in charge of the Nordic Harmonisation of LCA under our Nordic Sustainable Construction programme. In the summer 2023, the project was won by SWECO with BUILD-AAU, LCA support and EFLA as subcontractors.
Read about the work package for Nordic Harmonisation of LCA here.
Comparability and Clarity across the Nordics
According to Project Manager at SWECO, Morten Ryberg, actors of the Nordic construction sector stand to gain much from higher comparability between the limit values for CO2 emissions of each Nordic country:
“Currently, it is almost impossible to compare emission levels and progress across countries. By aligning the method for setting Nordic limit values for emissions, we will achieve a higher comparability of data across the Nordics and share best practices and solutions to collect and structure data on buildings.
Together, this will ensure a higher accuracy when assessing the environmental impact of buildings”. In addition, the project aims to bring transparency and clarity to the sector:
“As the Nordic countries are on the quest of pursuing carbon neutrality earlier than most countries, it will not only bring clarity and transparency for our construction sector but also benefit the European community if we can come up with a robust Nordic method,” Maria Tiainen, Senior specialist at the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, states.
Contributing to the Green Transition in Europe
Therefore, an important part of the project is to contribute with Nordic experiences to the European climate initiatives regarding construction:
“With this project, we aim to find the potentials for CO2 reduction in the Nordic building stock, which will probably differ from the rest of Europe, and, not least, bring important Nordic input and experience to the European harmonisation,” Professor, Harpa Birgisdottir, from BUILD-AAU explains.
The project team will review European policies and initiatives as EU’s Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for Buildings, the Energy Performance of Building Directive and the EU taxonomy. This review ensures that the project reverberates with both the European and the Nordic context.