Category 18 April 2019

SBToolCZ: Innovative assessment tool for sustainable building performance

SBToolCZ is a tool for certifying and evaluating building quality in accordance with sustainable construction principles in the Czech Republic. With architects, engineers, building companies, and indirectly homeowners being the main users, the certification scheme acts as a marketing instrument and an inspiration for innovative building solutions.

The challenge

SBToolCZ aims to be a reliable certification tool for building compliance to sustainable construction principles (decreasing environmental impacts during the buildings life cycle). It also helps in enhancing market value, optimising building design in accordance with residents’ needs, raising consumer awareness and stimulating market demand for sustainable building performance standards and construction materials.

The measure

SBToolCZ assesses the quality of buildings in accordance with sustainable construction principles and local conditions. Criteria for the assessment of the built environment are divided into groups: environmental, economic, and management criteria, plus location of the building including social criteria. Each criterion has an algorithm for setting up the indicator value, i.e. they are weighed according to importance. The criteria also differ according to the phase of a building’s life cycle (design, start of operation, operation). Interestingly, in order to enhance sustainable living, region-specific and site-specific context-factors are taken into account, such as local traditions and social and cultural aspects of the area. SBToolCZ tool therefore allows assessment of a building beyond standard measures such as energy efficiency in buildings or water and wastewater treatment.

The tool’s final output is a certificate, which is labeling the building project as “certified” (meaning that it meets minimum standards). Better scores depending on higher sustainability criteria lead to a bronze, silver or gold certificate. Certification costs make a certain percentage of the total investment, depending on the scale of the project. Since 2010, 22 buildings have been certified, among them two office buildings and the remainder residential buildings.

SBToolCZ is the localised version of the international sustainable building assessment framework SBTool (Sustainable Building Tool), managed and initiated by the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE). It was adapted for the Czech Republic with funding from the Ministry of Education.

The SBToolCZ is administered and carried out by the faculty of Civil Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague in cooperation with the National SBToolCZ Platform. The latter is composed of two certification bodies, the Research Institute for Buildings (VÚPS – Certifikační společnost, s.r.o.), and the Technical and Test Institute for Construction (TZÚS Praha, s.p.). The development of the Czech version of the tool started in 2005; it has been available on the market since 2010.

Lessons learnt

SBToolCZ is a policy measure which promotes sustainable building design and as a consequence supporting private demand. It is not just an assessment methodology, but can influence building design, taking into account a wide array of factors. The fact that SBToolCZ acknowledges local and social conditions can make it in the future more relevant in the Czech Republic than other building design and assessment methods, such as LEED or BREEAM.

Further deployment

SBToolCZ is estimated to be level 6 on the GML scale. SBTool CZ is an interesting new alternative to existing building standards. The iiSBE established similar standards in Italy, Portugal and Spain. The Czech Republic also recently invented a “preSBTool software” which offers a more simplified, rapid and basic building assessment in cases where not all necessary information on criteria can be obtained.