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OPEN HOUSE - Benchmarking and mainstreaming building sustainability on the EU based on transparency and openness (open source and availability) from model to implementation

Final Report Summary - OPEN HOUSE (OPEN HOUSE - Benchmarking and mainstreaming building sustainability on the EU based on transparency and openness (open source and availability) from model to implementation.)

Executive Summary:

Executive summary

After 3.5 years of fruitful team work of all the partners, the OPEN HOUSE project ends. The OPEN HOUSE project has merged and harmonised existing rating tools for sustainable buildings across Europe towards a common view and has developed and implemented a common European assessment methodology for sustainable buildings based on European standards.

While numerous sustainability assessment methods do exist within Europe and in other parts of the world, most of these are proprietary. To many users, the methodologies used are ‘black boxes’, providing an environmental rating, but not full clarity on the methodologies used. Furthermore, there are significant differences in the approaches of these tools, even within Europe. This fragmentation may result in competing commercial interests to gradually dilute the sustainability approach taken.

With the scope of being widely adopted in Europe, the OPEN HOUSE methodology has been developed in a fully transparent, collective and open process, with extensive communication and interaction with European key stakeholders.

One of the most relevant objectives of OPEN HOUSE was to test the newly developed methodology for sustainable buildings to case studies Europe wide in order to assess its applicability and to gather constructive feedback for its further improvement. A broad testing and validation campaign of the methodology was launched addressing 35 European countries and 67 real case studies throughout Europe were selected for this purpose. This phase of the project mainly consisted in selecting and assessing appropriate case studies, train and support the assessors with useful training materials and customized online tools and to analyse their feedback in detail in order to check the compatibility between the sustainability assessments of different EU countries.

During the pilot assessment of the case studies all the sustainability indicators of the OPEN HOUSE methodology were evaluated by means of a free online assessment tool developed during the project. The feedback provided by the assessors from the case studies revealed that the OPEN HOUSE online assessment tool is user-friendly and facilitates the building assessment. The OPEN HOUSE assessment guideline and the provided tools were also recognized by the assessors as of good quality and helpful, showing that the OPEN HOUSE methodology is already applicable in practice. Overall, the OPEN HOUSE methodology was seen as holistic and covering all aspects of sustainability.

During the final phase of the project the first version of the OPEN HOUSE methodology was refined on the basis of the feedback analysis from the assessment of all the case studies and latest results from other initiatives like SuPerBuildings or European and International standardisation committees.

One of the latest results of the project was the OPEN HOUSE weighting concept. The OPEN HOUSE consortium wanted to reflect transparency and openness in the development of the weighting system taking into account local priorities. Therefore, each indicator is weighted on the basis of a transparent methodology evaluating its impact in terms of extent, intensity and duration. The weight of an indicator is then adjusted to match with local priorities, thanks to public and expert opinion, existing national schemes and public authorities’ input.

Finally, the OPEN HOUSE assessment methodology was publicly launched at the end of July 2013. All information can be found on the official website (www.openhouse-fp7.eu/).

Project Context and Objectives:
Summary description of project context and objectives

At International, European and National level a number of methodologies for assessing the building sustainability have appeared like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), GBTOOL, DGNB (German certificate for sustainable buildings) or LEnSE (Label for environmental, social and economic buildings). These methodologies take into account factors like energy (operational energy, CO2 emissions), resource consumption, indoor environmental quality (air quality, lightning and noise), issues relating to health and comfort ,quality of service, life cycle costs (LCC), transport (location issues related to transport) and materials (environmental implications of materials selection, recyclable materials).
Despite these assessment methodologies, which address someway the identification of the buildings’ sustainability, there are still unresolved issues that do not make possible to carry out a common European complete and reliable sustainability assessment of buildings.
The main problem is that numerous parameters interact when considering the built environment, thus making extremely difficult to have a trustable widely applicable methodology to “measure” the sustainability of buildings.
There is a need at European level of a methodology that could be embedded in policies, a methodology that would gradually come in the mainstream, in the everyday of the construction business. That could at the end even assume the shape of a “label” allowing sustainability to become a visible, comprehensible and, why not, a marketable open asset.
The main challenge of OPEN HOUSE has been to develop and to implement a common European transparent building assessment methodology, complementing the existing ones, for planning and constructing sustainable buildings by means of an open approach and technical platform.
The OPEN HOUSE methodology have the characteristics to be widely used at European level and have public participation through a transparent approach enabling stakeholders and the general public, a free access to an open source of information through an accessible platform.
The main objectives of OPEN HOUSE project are the following:
- to define the OPEN HOUSE baseline: an open and transparent European platform for building sustainability;
- to widely communicate the baseline concept and outline the mechanism for interaction among the project and stakeholders;
- to build up the OPEN HOUSE Platform: facilitating a pan EU effort towards a common view on building sustainability;
- to pave the way for implementing and evaluating the methodology: selection of case studies and mechanisms for decision making;
- to evaluate and refine the methodology by the feedback resulting from case studies and real sustainable public procurement cases and other stakeholders inputs;
- to disseminate and exploit the OPEN HOUSE methodology.


Project Results:
Main S&T results/foregrounds

The development of the OPEN HOUSE methodology has been based on five work packages:
• 1. Development of awareness and the methodology for sustainable building assessment baseline definition
• 2. Designing of the OPEN HOUSE model and tools
• 3. Selection of case studies and mechanisms for decision making
• 4. OPEN HOUSE platform operation
• 5. OPEN HOUSE platform dissemination and exploitation

WP1: Awareness and methodology for sustainable building assessment baseline definition

The overall objective of WP1 was to define an open and transparent concept for building sustainability, “OPEN HOUSE baseline” and to widely communicate it among stakeholders: policy makers, standardisation bodies, planners, architects, investors, customers and scientific community.
In order to have real influence members of the research and building community, policy and decision makers were mobilized in order to participate in the methodology development.

An analysis and a critical evaluation of existing assessment methodologies of building sustainability respective standards and harmonisation activities were developed. The aim was the identification of all indicators used in these systems. One of the most important outcomes of Task 1.2 was an extensive table containing all indicators occurring in the systems analysed.

The OPEN HOUSE consortium carried out an exhaustive analysis of the table of indicators from the existing assessment methodologies of building sustainability developed in task 1.2. A list of 560 indicators was analysed in order to identify the indicators most suitable for the OPEN HOUSE methodology’s baseline.

Best practices on green or sustainable public procurement were identified. The adoption and implementation of green and sustainable public procurement practices by the Member States in EU was analyzed. The information on green purchasing in Europe was analyzed and specifically, an analysis of the GPP in construction in Europe was done. Specific measures in different countries were analyzed and could be considered as best practices of GPP in construction. A tender process of VISESA from one of its last works for building including environmental criteria was also introduced as a case study. From this real case study, more potential barriers could be identified for future tenders.

The baseline model for the development of the OPEN HOUSE methodology was developed. The framework of the OPEN HOUSE methodology includes system boundaries, incorporated indicators and sub-indicators, rating and evaluation schemes, weighting factors, documentation guidelines and references as well as objectives.

The OPEN HOUSE methodology is a bottom up approach and covers 46 qualitative and quantitative indicators from existing international and European assessment methodologies and systems. These indicators are listed in 6 categories and are connected to all life-cycle stages of a building: product stage, construction process, use stage and end-of-life stage.

Dissemination activities were developed aiming to mobilize decision makers and all the actors involved in the building sector (i.e. European key stakeholders) for example through direct communication with local authorities and national/local public bodies, clients and users, European building sector and sustainable building related platforms, buildings networks and organizations, universities, research institutes, etc. in order to achieve a European consensus on the building sustainable concept and the OPEN HOUSE baseline.

WP2: Designing OPEN HOUSE model and tools

The works in task 2.1 focused to set up the technical infrastructure for implementing the OPEN HOUSE baseline. The technical design of the core part of the OPEN HOUSE platform was evolved within this task.

The technical part comprises a typical three tier architecture: user interface, functionality implementation and database back-end.

The aim of task 2.2 was to set up an interactive environment enabling stakeholders’ communication with OPEN HOUSE Platform. The purpose of this task was to technically facilitate communication with stakeholders. The task implemented the following two environments:
• A dynamic document storage and development platform: a Wiki system that allows document version monitoring and collaborative document development
• A static document storage and restricted access intranet space: a Webcollab tool only accessible to OPEN HOUSE partners via credentials.

In task 2.3 the OPEN HOUSE Platform was fully developed. It is now visible at http://oh.building-21.net whereas as residential version is visible at http://oh-res.building-21.net

The most visible result is the OPEN HOUSE Platform, http://oh.building-21.net which is an advanced and open environment that has currently no similar one in the public domain. Every web user is able to use this online tool to carry out a self-evaluation of the sustainability of the project. The platform has been tested and holds information on 67 case studies, which manifests the maturity and the stability of the development.

A follow up version of the OPEN HOUSE platform is gradually showing up at http://oh-res.building-21.net which implements a more narrow set of indicators, suitable for the residential domain.



Figure1: OPEN HOUSE assessment tool for sustainable buildings

WP3: Selection of case studies and mechanisms for decision making

The aim of WP 3 was to pave the way for implementing and evaluating the methodology: selection of case studies, getting commitment from Public bodies for real cases and mechanisms for decision making.

Due to the fact that the first version of the methodology was intended to be used for new office buildings (less than 10 years old), it was agreed among the partners to focus the building type of the Case Studies mainly to these types of buildings (new office buildings). However, the buildings to be used as Case Studies could also include other types of uses such as educational, cultural or residential in addition to their office use.

Additionally, in some cases, other types of buildings were selected, such as libraries, university buildings, conference buildings, exhibition buildings (museums). The analysis deployed in such case studies allowed the consortium to draw recommendations for further adaptations of the methodology to other types of buildings as stated in the DOW.

For the selection of the Case Studies in European countries not represented by the project partners, a building identification template was developed. An invitation letter containing a short presentation of the OPEN HOUSE project, its objectives, and the Project Partners involved, was written. This Open Invitation Letter was distributed to all project partners involved, along with the building template form. Both documents were widely disseminated by the project partners. The invitation for case studies was also published in the OPEN HOUSE website and on the websites of the project partners. The invitation for Case Studies was disseminated to contacts in 25 countries outside the consortium, in order to ensure that by the end of this Task the required number of Case Studies will be reached. A Call for Tenders was launched for the case studies of European countries outside the consortium. Apart from widely disseminating the Call through direct email contacts, the tenders were also published on the OPEN HOUSE website as well as on the websites of the project partners.

Regarding the building stage, buildings completed within the last decade were addressed (without excluding refurbished buildings). Buildings could also be in design or construction phase. In order to ensure a maximum coverage of buildings through the selected case studies, the target set was to have assessed in each country both types of office buildings (new and in design/ construction phase).


Figure 2: Buildings selected as case studies

For the selection of case studies inside the consortium the same procedure was followed as described for case studies outside the consortium: An invitation letter along with a building template form to be filled was widely disseminated and also published in the OPEN HOUSE website.




Figure 3: Building stage, type of use and climate in the selected buildings as case studies

Figure 4: Examples of buildings selected as case studies (67 case studies in 35 European countries)

The aim of task T3.3 was to obtain an early commitment of the public bodies that were willing to use OPEN HOUSE methodology as part of their public procurement processes. The focus was put in the countries of the consortium members, being the partners responsible for getting the early commitment from the public procurement bodies of their countries to participate in the definition of the OPEN HOUSE methodology.
In order to receive the feedback from Public Authorities regarding the implementation of OPEN HOUSE methodology in public tenders and most importantly, in order to get the commitment of these public bodies to participate in the definition of the methodology, a brief questionnaire was prepared and sent to Public Authorities of the different European Countries. The OH consortium got in contact with national authorities with a twofold objective of engaging them in OH process as well as getting their feedback regarding the introduction of the OPEN HOUSE methodology in public tender procedures.

During the deployment of task T.3.3 a positive feedback was received from Public Procurement Bodies. Up to nine public bodies showed their interest in participating and supporting the implementation of OPEN HOUSE. Moreover, most of the national authorities contacted would be interested in implementing partially or totally OH methodology as part of their procurement processes.
However, most of the public bodies agreed that the methodology must be further developed and officially recognized before considering its introduction in public tenders.

Mechanisms for managing input to the consortium have been developed. The input resulting from case study performers, consortium members, affiliated organizations, tender applicants and any other interested third party was collected with the technical support provided in WP 2.


WP4: OPEN HOUSE Platform Operation

In WP 4, the selected 67 case studies were conducted in 35 European countries to test the applicability of the OPEN HOUSE methodology in various contexts.

According to the objectives specified in task 4.1 two different kinds of assessment were carried out. The Basic & Quick Sustainability Assessment for case studies outside the consortium and the Complete Sustainability Assessment for case studies inside the consortium.

For both assessments, all 56 indicators included in the Assessment Guideline have to be assessed. The difference between the assessments came from the detail of precision and documentation of the building performance:
- Basic & Quick Sustainability Assessment gives a first idea of the sustainability level of the project and proposes actions to improve it. The evaluation of the building performance can be based on assumptions, at design phase or in use phase.
- Complete Sustainability Assessment gives a whole overview of the sustainability performance of an existing building. The evaluation of the building performance is based on detailed documentation.

The objective of the case studies was to gather information in order to, on one hand, refine the OPEN HOUSE methodology and, on the other hand, to demonstrate its effectiveness. Therefore, detailed data had to be collected about the building performance as well as the applicability and relevance of the indicators in different European countries with specific national context: climate, building practices, regulation, etc.

Conducting such a complex building assessment raised challenges to be solved:
- to clearly define which data had to be gathered
- to ensure the consistency and comparability of the reported information
- to reach a high quality level of the sustainability reports
These are the reasons why the successful running of the case studies required the development of adequate support tools, training and management structure.

Developing the assessment material was a first step to define the information to be gathered and harmonise the sustainability reports. When performing a building sustainability assessment with the OPEN HOUSE methodology during the case studies, the necessary material was composed of 3 main parts (see figure below):

● The Assessment Guideline (AG): this reference document includes detailed technical information on each indicator of the OPEN HOUSE methodology

● The Assessment Manual (AM): this guide provides complete guideline on how to lead the assessment and report buildings’ sustainability

● The Assessment Tools (AT): these are practical tools developed to facilitate the assessment and reporting of buildings’ sustainability.


Figure 5: OPEN HOUSE Assessment material

The Assessment Guideline - AG

This document includes the comprehensive description of the 56 sustainability indicators from the OPEN HOUSE methodology. It was elaborated by all partners during the first part of the project and is the main output of the WP1. A first version used for case studies can be found in annex C of D1.5. Every assessor had to refer to this document that clearly defines which data has to be gathered and which aspects have to be looked at in order to perform the building assessment.

The Assessment Manual - AM
This manual was developed to explain to the assessors how to use the assessment tools and to carry out a building assessment. It is itself composed of 3 main chapters:
● General Assessment Manual, explaining how to use the different tools and assess the building performance.
● Documentation Manual, including examples of indicators assessed with complete documentation
● Online Platform Manual, introducing to the use of the OPEN HOUSE online assessment tool. It is completed by an exhaustive guide on the use of the Life Cycle Assessment online tool: the LCA User Guide.
In addition to this comprehensive manual, a “Quick Start Guide” was developed in the form of a presentation. It provides easy instructions to quickly start with the assessment using the OPEN HOUSE methodology.

All these guidance documents aim at ensuring the good understanding of the methodology and its application, with a view to reaching a high quality level of the sustainability reports.

The Assessment Tools - AT
In order to ensure the consistency and comparability of the reported information, common working tools are needed. Moreover, the acceptance and the quality of work are even higher when these tools are user-friendly. This is the reason why many tools have been developed to simplify and harmonise the assessment of the case studies.
The core assessment tool is the OPEN HOUSE online assessment tool developed within WP2, accessible online at the following address: http://oh.building-21.net.
After free registration, this online tool allows to carry out a Basic & Quick or Complete Sustainability Assessment.
The complex calculation and rating system described in the Assessment Guideline is transformed into a user-friendly questionnaire where answers lead to the automatic calculation of the score achieved.
During the case studies, for both Basic & Quick and Complete Sustainability assessments, assessors had to justify the performance achieved by giving explanations in the part provided for that purpose.
For Complete Sustainability assessments, assessors had to upload building documents as evidence supporting the performance achieved.

Case studies have been reviewed with the help of a server review process to ensure the quality of reports, for Basic & Quick as well as Complete sustainability assessments.


Figure 6: Tab “Introduction” from the feedback form

Feedback from case studies has been collected in order to improve the indicators, the assessment process and the weighting system. This feedback was then analysed by all partners with the view of establishing the basis for the refinement of the indicators for the final OPEN HOUSE methodology.

Furthermore, this feedback was also used to study the compatibility of the OPEN HOUSE assessment for different building types, construction phases and European countries. It reveals that most of OPEN HOUSE indicators were applicable in all European countries, for offices or building types with similar uses and at most of construction phases.

The time necessary to conduct an assessment varies from an average of 100 hours for Basic & Quick assessment to 200 hours for a complete assessment. It depends on the effort needed to gather the documentation. For Basic & Quick Assessment it varies from 15 hours with an experienced assessor having a perfect knowledge of the building and having already certified it with another methodology, to 400 hours where it took extra effort to implement some measurements that were not common practice there and some of those measurements were even implemented for the first time.


Figure 7: Analysis of the Feedback on indicators for each case study


In task 4.2 workshops with local public authorities were held in 5 European countries to analyse the opportunities, barriers and best ways of implementing the OPEN HOUSE methodology in public tender processes at EU level.

The OPEN HOUSE methodology can be used as a support tool for the implementation of GPP in the construction projects. However it is not possible to impose one method to assess specific sustainability criteria (environmental, social, economic) such as OPEN HOUSE method. The proposed methodology was regarded as a good set of criteria and indicators to be included in GPP process in the EU.

The best stage for the implementation of OH method in GPP is the preparation and execution of architects’ competition – at this stage (project design) the overall sustainability of the building is decided.

A guideline was drafted to give instructions for the introduction of the OH aspects in actual GPP building construction processes and information about GPP in Europe and best practices published on the OPEN HOUSE website.

In task 4.3 an updated overview of the actual state of standards development at International (ISO/TC 59/SC 17) and European (CEN/TC 350) level was done and completed with how OPEN HOUSE actively contributed to it.
Indeed, a close cooperation was established between standardisation working groups and OPEN HOUSE partners. Thus, OPEN HOUSE consortium could be aware of the latest development of standards while proposing new issues and testing the applicability of indicators suggested by standards in real case studies all over Europe.

The feedback from case studies collected and presented in D4.1.2 1st draft of OPEN HOUSE model and methodology refined reveals possible barriers to the implementation of sustainability indicators from CEN and ISO standards in Europe.

OPEN HOUSE has adopted the principles of standardised sustainability assessment for the construction and provides the means for the quantification of the sustainability aspects and impacts of the construction works over their life cycle in a transparent and open access way. A detailed comparative analysis of sustainability indicators suggested by European and International standards with OPEN HOUSE indicators shows very high similarity between them. Almost all indicators from standards are included in OPEN HOUSE (~90% of ISO indicators and ~70% of CEN indicators).


Figure 8: Comparative analysis of sustainability indicators suggested by European and International standards with OPEN HOUSE indicators


In task 4.4 the final version of the OPEN HOUSE assessment methodology was developed on the basis of all feedbacks collected during the project and latest results from other initiatives like SuPerBuildings or European and International standardisation committees. The number of indicators was reduced to 46, European targets were included, tools improved and the guidance clarified.
Propositions of indicators are done for different building types and the flexibility of the OPEN HOUSE system is demonstrated.

Figure 9: Final version of the OPEN HOUSE Assessment Guideline

One important result is that the weighting concept is finalised. The analysis of the weighting system of main certification schemes, which plays a major role in the final building rating, reveals that it is lacking of transparency and does not give any interested party the chance to understand clearly in detail how it was developed. On the contrary, the OPEN HOUSE weighting concept can be defined as follows: a universal, transparent and impact-oriented weighting, balanced with local priorities. On one side, we have the global objective part of the weighting, calculated for each indicator on the basis of the importance of its impact. On the other side, the local part of the weighting reflecting local priorities is taken in account to balance this impact-oriented weighting.


Figure 10: Example of the OPEN HOUSE weighting concept for the case in Germany.

Finally, the OPEN HOUSE assessment methodology was publicly launched at the end of July 2013. All information can be found on the official website (www.openhouse-fp7.eu/) and the user participation is welcome and encouraged via the European online platform for green building practitioners Construction21.


WP5: OPEN HOUSE Platform Dissemination and Exploitation

The main objective of WP 5 was to further disseminate and secure continuity of the OPEN HOUSE open approach and current model assessment methodology status.

A project web page (http://www.openhouse-fp7.eu/) was developed and on which all the information concerning the project has been displayed and updated.



Figure 11: Project web page http://www.openhouse-fp7.eu/


A dissemination plan was made and was updated and deployed along the project life and beyond. The different versions of the dissemination plan included the activities really developed in the project according to the previous plan, as well as the foreseen ones for the next period.

OPEN HOUSE partners have performed an intensive communication and dissemination campaign: the project has been presented in more than 170 national/international events related to the assessment of sustainable buildings addressing more than 650,000 key stakeholders from the entire construction value chain and distributing ca. 8,000 English flyers and ca. 1,200 flyers in other languages. Information about OPEN HOUSE have been published in relevant websites or have been distributed by different means, such as newsletters, articles on newspaper, papers presented at conferences or through direct communication with potential end users of the project´s platform. As a consequence, an increased awareness and interest in the OPEN HOUSE outcomes have been observed.




Figure 12: Examples of the OPEN HOUSE dissemination activities



Figure 13: Examples of papers and articles about the OPEN HOUSE project


The OPEN HOUSE launch event was held on the 25th July 2013 in Brussels. It was a unique opportunity to learn about the OPEN HOUSE methodology, see how it embodies the principles of transparency and openness, hear how it has been successfully applied to 68 buildings and find out about the resources that are available to implement the methodology throughout the EU.



Figure 14: OPEN HOUSE launch event held in Brussels (July 2013)




Figure 15: OPEN HOUSE promotional brochure





The most important outcomes of the project can be summarised as follows:

 Review and evaluation of the state of the art in international standardization, global initiatives and international rating tools targeting the assessment of sustainable buildings. This contributed to the definition of a common framework for the European concept of sustainable buildings, to the promotion of the standardisation of assessment methods as a first step towards European comparability and to support the dissemination of the work from standards CEN TC/350.

 Identification of best practices on green public procurement adopted by the Member States in Europe.

 Development of an efficient free online platform including a user-friendly assessment tool for new office buildings (http://oh.building-21.net/) and an interactive and dynamic forum (http://openhouse.building-21.net) for open discussion, thus encouraging the adoption of the methodology and facilitating the communication towards a common view on building sustainability.

 Development of the OPEN HOUSE methodology made of a free assessment guideline containing a detailed description of the final set of 46 indicators and tools for the LCA and LCC assessment and other specific indicator tools. The final methodology builds the basis for local adaptation and can be used as a scientific support for further improvement of existing certification methods.

 Organization of trainings on the OPEN HOUSE methodology for professionals and students.

 Application of the methodology on 67 selected real case studies from 35 EU countries inside and outside the OPEN HOUSE Consortium and data collection for definition of benchmarks and policy targets and for further statistical analysis.

Potential Impact:
Potential impact

Promotion of the widespread mainstreaming of sustainable construction practices in new/existing buildings resulting in improved overall quality of the built environment are needs also identified in the Lead Market initiative on Sustainable Construction. This initiative is a “demand side initiative” addressed to reduce barriers to the penetration of innovative solutions. Even more, it has been created to foster and facilitate the internal market for sustainable buildings. Collaboration between Member States is crucial as the initiative underlines.

OPEN-HOUSE will contribute to achieve these aims and needs, through an appropriate methodology for sustainability and the proposed standardisation, public procurement, labelling, dissemination activities, giving, at the same time, a real open and transparent European dimension to the project.

The modern and dynamic methodology used in OPEN HOUSE will be supportive in areas, such as urban infrastructure, land use, etc. where EU wide mobilization is required in order to establish a common view on sustainability issues. This mobilization will compensate the existing fragmented approaches and competitive threats.

Impact on European policies:
Environmental Policies: OPEN HOUSE will help to understand, assess the impact and respond in the buildings sector, supporting the achievement of the targets established by the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Climate Change Conferences: Bali (December 2007), Poznan (December 2008) and the future Copenhagen 2009, concerning the reduction of GHG. Other environmental policies or strategies also address by OPEN HOUSE would be: a) The 6th Environmental Action Programme of the European Community (2002-2012). b) The revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). c) The EU Water Initiative (EUWI) launched in 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (WSSD). d) The Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

Energy Policies: OPEN HOUSE will contribute to achieve, for 2020, the European Council mandate of: a)
Reducing 20% the energy consumption compared to 2005. b) Increasing up to 20% the contribution of Renewable Energy Sources. c) Reducing 20% GHG emissions compared to 1990, supporting the achievement of the objectives of:
o The European Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (2006-12),
o The existing EU Directives on contribution to Electricity Production from Renewable Energy Sources
(2001/77/EC), Energy End Use and Services (2006/32/EC), Security of Energy Supply and Infrastructure Investment (2005/89/EC), Eco-design for energy-using products (2005/32/EC), Cogeneration, the current and recast EPBD, etc.

Research Policies: OPEN HOUSE will have a significant impact on the RTD in the construction sector contributing to reinforce the construction research expenditure level in Europe, which is far behind other sectors.

EU Disability Action Plan (2003-10): OPEN HOUSE will contribute to remove accessibility barriers and to support facilities for disabled people, including measures for the independent living through its methodology and research identifying weak points and potential barriers and will provide solutions to tackle them.

Other related European policies/strategies: OPEN HOUSE will also contribute the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS, adopted on 15/June/2006), the EU Environment and Health Action Plan (2004-2010), the Construction Product Directive (CPD, 89/106/EEC), the Small Business (SME) Act for Europe (June 2008), etc.

Impact on regulations; standards, codes and regulations:
OPEN HOUSE will contribute through its transparent, open and comprehensive methodology to push a common effort in standardisation, reducing the current fragmentation of the standardisation process and providing an effective tool to implement and develop standards through a harmonised approach at EU level.
• This approach is in line and contributes to European policies and standards such as the European Committee for Standardisation CEN TC 350 “Sustainable of Construction Works” for transforming EU buildings from a resource intensive to a knowledge intensive sector, and promoting new applications at the crossroads between different technologies. It is also in line with international standards, e.g. ISO TC 59/SC17.
• In addition, some experts involved in the CEN TC 350’s were invited to participate as External Experts in OPEN HOUSE, to assure that the correct path was being followed.

Impact on existing certifications in energy:
Despite the benefits of the energy performance certification, the inclusion of the sustainability in the buildings’ mandatory certificates will mean further energy savings as well as environmental, social and economic benefits. OPEN HOUSE aims to complement and contribute to the improvement of the current energy performance certification. Purchasers, tenants of domestic properties, architects, engineers and users in general will be able to know through this certificate all the relevant information related to the sustainability (environmental, economic and social) performance of the building, issues to improve, real value of the building, paybacks, etc.

In addition, it will result as an effective path to develop or assess national building codes at European level.

Boosting Green Public Procurement (GPP) processes:
The potential of Green Public Procurement as a policy instrument to stimulate innovation has been recognized by the EC in its COM of July 2008 “Public procurement for a better environment”. However, as it is pointed out in the COM, this potential has only partially exploited, due to several obstacles that are hindering their take-up. The lack of common environmental criteria at European level is one of the barriers identified by the EC, insufficient mechanisms such as databases, information of LCC, low awareness uncertainty about legal possibilities to include environmental criteria in tender documents, lack of political support and lack of a coordinated exchange of best practice and information between regions and local authorities are the other barriers identified.
OPEN HOUSE will contribute to adopt a common and widely accepted concept of sustainability in its whole dimension (environmental, economic and social) at European level, by means of a consultation and open (accessible and transparent) working process that will involve public bodies, policy makers, standardisation bodies, decision makers, stakeholders as well as the general public. The OPEN HOUSE website (an interactive environment open and accessible for all) with databases in where all the relevant information related to the outcomes of the project are stored. Thus, purchasers, policy makers, managers, consultants and other professionals related to the tender processes, will have access to the required information to implement and to promote in an effective way the tender processes. Guides to use the methodology, methods of calculation, GPP best practices database, reports and in general all the gathered and developed work during the project, as well as beyond the end of the project will be uploaded to OPEN HOUSE website. The OPEN HOUSE platform will produce the following positive impacts:
a) To establish common environmental criteria related to building’s sustainability.
b) To allow an effective and coordinated exchange of best practice and information between national, regional and local authorities.
c) To be in line with current approaches like the Training Toolkit on GPP.

OPEN HOUSE will also help to raise awareness of the benefits of green buildings through publicising the approach by means of workshops, public consultations, awareness campaigns, among stakeholders, policy makers, standard bodies, business and the scientific community. The economic aspect of sustainability is fully deployed in the methodology; life cycle cost (LCC), cost-benefit assessments and other economic methods are integrated in OPEN HOUSE, thus allowing decision-makers to know the scope within the existing legal framework for adopting innovation-oriented solutions.
GPP is the most effective way of reducing cost and environmental impact and OPEN HOUSE will contribute to foster it. Green buildings last longer and produce less waste (money is therefore saved). In addition, green buildings require fewer resources to operate, so savings can be made on energy, water, fuel and other natural resources.

Market Impact
OPEN HOUSE will mean the adoption of a common assessment methodology at EU level, open and accessible to all, that will be in constant improvement and adaptation to the new regulations, standards and policies that are being developed at national, European and International level, the whole construction value chain as well as policy makers, standardisation bodies and decision makers will have an effective instrument to boost innovation in their business (construction sector) or through their policies (policy makers, authorities and so on), thus reinforcing their competitiveness.

The OPEN HOUSE methodology will allow architects, engineers, promoters to assess the sustainability of their buildings in a simply and reliable way, giving them methods and options to improve their sustainability performance in a cost-effective way. Insurance sector will play also an important role as it might enhance the monitoring and enforcement of standards set or could extend to those standards being set by insurance interests.
Public authorities will be also able to use the OPEN HOUSE tool as a basis for specifying a minimum environmental performance level for their new facilities.

OPEN HOUSE will favour the creation of new business models for building sector, including the sustainability concept in all the value chain of the construction process from the design to the maintenance; new management services for SMEs and creation of sustainability consultancy firms. Organizations that adopt sustainable construction practices are recognized as good 'corporate citizens', and influence those around them. As markets gradually change, the availability of buildings sustainability will increase and prices will fall.

Socio-economic and Environmental Impact:
Impact on accessibility
OPEN HOUSE will contribute to boost accessibility through developing a realistic and fit-to-the-purpose model of building’s accessibility.


Economic Impact
OPEN HOUSE will provide, through its sustainability assessment and monitoring during the building life (process and monitoring indicators), a systematic way of assessing the influence on health, environment, and resources throughout the whole life cycle of the buildings. OPEN HOUSE will assist in optimising the value of a construction project over its lifetime, having regard to all the direct and indirect project costs.
The benefits of sustainable buildings include cost savings from reduced energy, water, and waste; lower operations and maintenance costs; and enhanced occupant productivity and health.

OPEN HOUSE will contribute, additionally:
o To raise awareness between stakeholders, promoters, engineers, architects, of the financial benefits of sustainable buildings by introducing life cycle costing analysis in its economic assessment.
o To take into account as a relevant sustainability factor is indoor environmental quality. European citizens spend more than 90% of their time indoor. In more than 40% of the enclosed spaces, people suffer health- and comfort- related symptoms and illnesses attacking their quality of life. Consequently, improving the health and comfort of the EU population working in these environments will create a huge potential for economic-social benefits, e.g. increased productivity, reduced sick leave absences and medical costs, etc. Several reports confirm that productivity is increased by: 7.1%, 1.8% and 1.2% with lighting, ventilation and thermal systems.
o The adoption of ICTs in buildings (control systems) as a means of monitoring and managing the sustainability performance of the building, as well as improving indoor environmental quality, thus providing the inputs required by the OPEN HOUSE process indicators foreseen in the methodology.

Environmental Impact:
Building construction and operation have an enormous direct/indirect environmental impact, as they not only use resources (e.g. energy, raw materials) but also generate waste and potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. As economy and population continue to expand, designers and builders have to face a unique challenge to meet demands for new/renovated facilities accessible, secure, and healthy while minimizing their environmental impact.
OPEN HOUSE’s indirect environmental impact will result in the reduction of:
o CO2 releases in the atmosphere via the reduction of the total energy consumption in buildings.
Buildings are the second highest consumer of power in the world behind industry.
o 30% Water consumption. The water required for drinking and other domestic purposes is a significant proportion of the total water demand. Water prices in EU vary considerably (0.2-0.4 €/m3 in Italy or 1.6-2.1 €/m3 in Germany). Average water price in EU-15: 1.2 €/m3. With EU-15 average water consumption of 150 l/person/day, sustainable measures proposed by OPEN HOUSE will help to reduce water consumption to 120 l/p./day. If sustainable measures are implemented all around EU, with a population of 389 million people in 2005, this will result in water saving of 11.67 Hm3 per day in EU-15 (14M€/day saving).
o 38% Waste water production. The disposal of waste water and sludge from urban waste water treatment plants are both subject to regulations (EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/272/EEC). The average water price that each European inhabitant has to pay for the wastewater management is EU: 81 €/year. If sustainable measures are implemented all around Europe, up to 38% of wastewater generation will be reduced. With a population of 389 million people in 2005, this will result in 11.973*106 €/year savings.
o 22% Construction waste. Processing and manufacturing building products accounts for 70% of all energy used in constructing buildings. It has been estimated that up to 75% of the building materials used in Europe are potentially recyclable. Currently only 5% is in fact recycled. OPEN HOUSE methodology will provide the best methods and ways to reuse existing building structures and materials, use of recycled content materials and reduction in construction waste.

Impact on SMEs
According to FIEC the building construction sector is the biggest industrial employer in Europe being the number of enterprises in this sector about 2.9 million, of which practically all are SMEs. These figures stress the important role of SMEs in the construction sector. In the achievement of the previous expected impacts, the project will have an important contribution of the SMEs (ACE, APINTECH, CCS, ZRMK); helping other SMEs to become knowledge-based added value companies and to enter into a specific market of sustainable buildings.
OPEN HOUSE will also influence positively the overall construction building SMEs supply chain from the design phase develop by architects, through supplier, services providers and engineering companies, enabling them to: a) have new business opportunities through the outline of new business models, b) access to a new building sustainable market concerned about environmental, social and economic aspects, c) create new jobs as a result of the exploitation of the methodology or same parts of it, like improving energy efficiency, reducing the consumption of water resources, providing environmental-friendly materials,…etc., allowing them to compete in new ways and enlarge their client list d) improved commercial links.
The OPEN HOUSE methodology for GPP would be of a particular benefit for SMEs operating only at local, regional and national level.

List of Websites:

Project public website
http://www.openhouse-fp7.eu/



Project Coordinator
Daniel Hiniesto
daniel.hiniesto.munoztorre@acciona.com
Acciona Infraestructuras S.A
Acciona R&D Technological Centre
C/ Valportillo II, 8.
28108 Alcobendas, Madrid (SPAIN)

Scientific and Technical Coordinator
Natalie Eßig
essig@tum.de
Fraunhofer-Institute of Building Physics (IBP)
Institutsteil Holzkirchen
Fraunhoferstraße 10
83626 Valley (Germany)