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Level(s) Testing Phase – Everything You Need to Know!

Last year, the European Commission introduced Level(s) a new framework of indicators to report on the sustainability performance of buildings. Last week, The Commission officially launched the two year testing phase for Level(s). This testing phase aims to support stakeholders across a buildings value chain, from designers though to facility managers; in testing the Level(s) indicators on their building projects.

The testing phase will last for two years and the Commission hope the feedback from the testing phase will help them determine the suitability of the indicators for the mass market. In launching the testing phase, the Commission has published a registration site where testers must register the project on which they intend to test Level(s).

In addition to this registration site, the Commission has published a series of guidance documents aimed at supporting testers of Level(s) throughout the testing period.  These documents cover topics from the general ‘What is Level(s)?’ to more detailed technical guidance.

This blog aims to summarise all the information published by the Commission in support of the testing phase, and outlines the key steps potential testers should take ahead of registering their interest in testing Level(s).

By following the steps below, you should become an expert on all things related to the Level(s) testing phase!

Step 1 – Read the Level(s) Guidance Document

This Guidance document, “Level(s): A Guide to Europe’s New Reporting Framework for Sustainable Buildings” prepared with the support of WorldGBC’s Europe network, provides a high-level overview of the objectives of Level(s) and outlines Level(s) potential to act as a catalyst for market transformation.

The Guidance stresses the importance of the testing phase in addressing any teething issues with Level(s) and concludes with a call to action from building sector stakeholders to support the testing and implementation of Level(s).

This Guidance sets the scene for sustainable buildings in a short and concise format, much more detailed guidance can be found in the additional documents provided by The Commission:

Step 2 –Still Got Questions? Read the FAQ!

The Level(s) guidance documents provides a large amount of information that may be difficult to digest. The Commission has published a set of FAQs that aim to answer the most common questions from the general “Is Level(s) a simplified certification system?” to “What is the value of testing Level(s)’? and more technical questions such as “What are the suitable life cycle stages of a building project to use Level(s) on?”

The FAQs will be updated throughout the testing phase for Level(s).

Step 3 – Interested in Piloting Level(s) – Check out the Testing Protocol!

Thw core aim of Level(s) is to mainstream sustainable buildings in Europe, and the Commission is hoping to reach a broad audience beyond ‘market leaders’. However, the broader the audience, the less knowledge and expertise they will have on aspects contained in the Level(s) framework such as Life Cycle Assessment.

Therefore, the testing protocol aims to take those stakeholders planning to test Level(s) through a ‘user journey’ with guidance on each of the steps involved in testing Level(s). Key topics covered include:

  • Getting to know Level(s)
  • How your organisation can test Level(s)
  • What is your commitment as a tester?
  • Registering your project
  • Preparing to make the test
  • Seeking help and support during the test

After reading the above, potential testers (you) should have a good idea of whether or not they can test Level(s) on their project.

Step 4 – Register your interest in testing Level(s)

By now, you should have been able to determine if you are in a position to participate in the testing phase. Those who want to test Level(s) on a building can register their project here.  If you decide not to test Level(s), you can register your interest in simply following the Level(s) testing phase here. 

As part of the registration for Level(s), testers must sign a commitment to share knowledge and results with DG Environment and the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s science and knowledge service who are provding the technical support to testers of Level(s).

Step 5 – Familiarise yourself with the “Guidance and rules on indicators to test.”

Once the decision has been made to test Level(s), it’s time to get familiar with the rules! Level(s) is designed to be accessible and usable by as many potential testers as possible – from those just starting to those who are experts in sustainable buildings performance. For less experienced testers, there is the possibility to start with the Level(s) ‘minimum reporting requirements’ while those with more experience can add a selection of more advanced indicators and life cycle tools to their test.

The ‘Guidance and rules on indicators to test’ document provides guidance for these different types of users on how to test Level(s).

Step 6 – Complete your performance assessment!

The next step is completing the performance assessment using the detailed guidance outlined in Part 3 of the Level(s) Guidance.

Step 7- Use the Common Report Template to submit your results

Lastly, testers will be required to report their results in this common reporting format. This is an excel spreadsheet that provides a format for reporting and comprises a combination of data fields, background information requirements and checklists.

Upon completion, the common reporting format spreadsheet should be submitted to the Joint Research Centre, by 30 June 2019.

The testing phase for Level(s) will officially conclude in March 2020, and the Commission will use the feedback collected during the testing phase to update the guidance on Level(s).

This is the first in a series of blogs that WorldGBC will publish on Level(s). This series aims to inform readers about the launch of Level(s) and the supporting documentation available, establish Level(s) role in delivering on global priorities and highlight the key role of GBCs in supporting the implementation of Level(s).

To learn more about Level(s), contact Audrey Nugent