Sustainable Building (SB)

The SBTool (Sustainable Building Tool) makes it possible to directly compare the results of different national assessment schemes and can be used outside the design, control and occupation phases.The SBTool was developed in the INTERREG IVB North-West Europe project REGAIN (Reducing the Greenhouse Effect through Alternative Industrial Estates Management in North West Europe). It was devised as part of the International Green Building Challenge, which saw the participation of international organisations and institutions with the greatest expertise in this field.

This tool offers the following advantages/features:

  • it has been developed and monitored in the framework of an international process which has seen the participation of 25 countries
  • it includes energy analysis, as well as the 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 takes the whole lifespan of the building – design, construction, occupancy and demolition – into consideration
  • 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 use of the SBTool is split in three phases. These are:

Phase 1 (Evaluation criteria) allows the assessor to choose the criteria under which the evaluation and monitoring of the building will be structured. These criteria can be categorised under the following headings:

  • site selection
  • consumption of energy & resources
  • environmental loads
  • internal quality
  • quality of local services
  • socio-economic aspects
  • cultural and perceptual aspects

In phase 2 (Benchmarking and indicators) a series of reference values for evaluating each of the criteria will be established. As the reference conditions are different (because each building is unique) a benchmarking phase must be included, i.e. research of guide values which lead to evaluation of the chosen criteria. These guide values, which are determined by local laws and regulations, based on minimums for local construction and technical standards, and on scientific and other literature, form the basis of the benchmarking.

In phase 3 (Defining the objectives and evaluation) the assessor will establish which results have to be obtained for each of the criteria based on the values set in phase 2, for example to achieve the best overall score across all categories, or to prioritise particular ones.

NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration 0
Enhance intermodality 0
Enhance liveability +
Increase safety and security conditions 0
Increase economic viability and costs efficiency +
Stimulate local economy +
Increase environmental efficiency ++
Increase energy efficiency ++

Good practice

The following good practices are those from the REGAIN project:

  1. Parc des Industries Artois-Flandres (FR) The SIZIAF building is one element within a much larger project, the creation of the Canal Business Park, developed over 12 hectares in the heart of the Artois Flandres Industrial Estate, and dedicated to businesses in the service sector. This park will be designed in accordance with sustainable principles, with strong emphasis on landscaping. To design an innovative building, SIZIAF’s approach has been equally innovative. The brief has been defined by a team of 3 architectural practices. The idea is to draw upon the experience of architects with expertise in the design of sustainable buildings and to define an innovative building in terms of environmental, social and economic performance. There are two main environmental principles for the building: (1) Very good energy performance; (2) To reflect current global environmental concerns (bioclimatic design, environmentally-friendly materials). The initial idea described a building with low energy consumption (+/- 50kWh per sq.m per year) and a predetermined budget. SIZIAF then wanted to take this further by integrating a photovoltaic roof, transforming the building into a ‘positive energy building’ (i.e. one which generates more energy than it consumes). The overall principle is to choose environmentally-friendly materials, i.e. those with low embodied energy.
  2. BEP – Namur (BE) This building is located in the Scientific Park Crealys, which is ISO 14001-certified. This ISO 140001 Certification illustrates the park’s aims in terms of sustainable development and sound management. The project focuses on the integrated management of environmental concerns and energy. Its definition and design are integrated: all of the technical expertise was gathered in one group, comprising the architect, the engineers and its specialised contractors (HVAC and passive house specialists), the academic adviser and the REGAIN project manager. Even though this method seems to be obviously good practice, it is not often used in the building industry, where each specialist tends to work alone and coordination is often minimal.
  3. Blaenau Gwent County (UK) This building was one of the first buildings constructed on the works site. The overall development sets the highest standards for sustainable development for a wide range of building types. Biodiversity, social and environmental sustainability are among the basic guiding principles for the site and high targets have been set for the whole site. The building will be used to accommodate and support local start-up businesses.
  4. Energy Technology Centre (UK) Scotland’s property portfolio varies a good deal, with significant investment required over the medium term. SETIC (Centre d’Innovation et de Technologie de l’énergie durable) currently has the opportunity to refurbish an existing building to demonstrate how this can be delivered in an affordable and commercial manner.  The Energy Technology Centre (ETC) is providing a resource for the development and testing a range of small-scale renewable energy systems. The facility is made up of two buildings formed around a central courtyard. The buildings themselves are made up of a variety of different types and materials due to previous extensions, alterations and additions. Building 1 is a 1950s concrete-framed, flat-roofed building with a high-bay workshop to one end and offices to the other.

Potential interchange performance improvement

  • the SBTool allows the future use of the building to be taken into consideration
  • the tool includes energy analysis, as well as evaluation of the wider social and environmental aspects (e.g. materials, construction techniques, comfort for occupants, etc.)
  • the interchanges can be analysed and possible measures can be developed


The software (tool) is free of charge.