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Take control of the climate requirements when building new!

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Climate and climate protection are quite dominant topics. Also in the construction industry because from 1 January 2023 new requirements apply. If you want to build new, you must also take the climate into consideration and document that you meet these requirements. But what will the regulations mean in practice? How much will construction processes actually change? And what could it be an advantage to focus on when buillding new?


It's a well-known fact that buildings account for a considerable part of Denmark's total CO2 emissions.The production of construction materials, the construction process, as well as the subsequent operation of the buildings account for up to 30 per cent of Denmark's CO2 emissions. A staggering 30-35 per cent of all waste originates from the building and construction industry.

That's why the political establishment as well as the industry have great focus on finding ways to reduce the construction industry's carbon footprint as part of Denmark's efforts to reach the goal of a total of 70 per cent CO2 reductions by 2030.

Against this background, new provisions have been incorporated into the buildings regulations from 1 January 2023. Thus, the climate impact (understood as CO2 emissions) must be documented in new buildings by means of an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) of the climate impact. When the building has been completed, and before it is put into use, an LCA must document that the building does not exceed a limit value of 12 kg CO2 equivalents per square-metre per year.

We give you four pieces of good advice enabling you to start using the new regulations.

1. Clarify the level of ambition right from the start

The limit value of 12 kg CO2 and the requirement for the extent of the LCA reporting stipulated in the buildings regulations are best described as a gentle introduction to make the industry used to incoporating the climate impact in construction.

Nevertheless, the building owner needs to clarify from the start whether the building is to have a specific carbon footprint or whether the legislative requirements are merely to be met. One thing is compliance with requirements, another thing are ambitious climate goals.

At the same time, the scope for the preparation of continuous assessments and reportings must be clarified. If changes are made to the design, construction, or choice of materials during the process, which is often the case in construction, it is an advantage if it is reported along the way. Otherwise, the reporting can in principle be made in the end, but then it will often be too late to make changes.

You are free to choose the format of the documentation to be presented to the municipal authorities. Actually, the advisor preparing the assessment is not required to be certified. If the LCA seems to be compliant with applicable standards, the municipal building inspectors are not expected to test the calculations. But this does not mean that you should take the easy way out.

Banks or investors may very well examine in the future whether the calculations are actually valid and documented. Therefore, it's time well spent to decide on the level of ambition of the LCA reporting right from the beginning of the construction process.

2. Make solid agreements

When the building owner has clarified the desired carbon footprint and LCA reporting, it is important to conclude solid agreements on the distribution of work and responsibilities.

All parties involved in the building have to align their expectations for how often to make calculations and follow-up during the process. And how detailed they should be.

The initial calculation will, typically, be made as an outline plan on the basis of generic data. As the projection of the building is being completed, generic data are replaced by more detailed drawings and, preferably, by environmental product declarations (EPD) for the products chosen.

Thus, solid agreements ensure that there is no doubt about who does what and when during the process.

3. Follow-up as you go along

The carbon footprint may easily be forgotten when talking about economics and choice of design. It is, however, a fact that decisions must be made early in the process about the building's future use, aesthetics, and a reduced carbon footprint.

If the building's carbon footprint is not considered until later, it will be much more difficult to make changes as you proceed. And as regards buildings, changes of design, material, or function will most likely arise. That's why follow-up is alpha and omega to ensure that the carbon footprint and changes aren't at cross purposes.

4. Gain control of your LCA reporting – and be on top of the situation

Though the requirements may seem gentle now, changes will be introduced in the years to come.

Construction covers so much more than new buildings. Actually only a few per cent of the activities in the construction industry account for new buildings. It would be natural to include both renovations and incentives for conversions in the provisions. Focus on, i.a., recyclable materials will also increase as the data base becomes better.

No matter whether the market or the law dictates the changes, they will come. Most major investors, including pension funds, already have - or will have - focus on the sustainability of buildings when choosing between investment assets. Though sustainability can look in many ways, a low LCA score is an easy way in which to assess and compare carbon footprints.

Those who already now make sure to incorporate the carbon footprint in the entire process, quite simply add value to their buildings.

If you manage to get in control of the LCA reporting already now, you'll be prepared for future requirements.

Do you need sparring?

Would you like support to manage the climate requirements made on the construction industry and to prepare future requirements?

Then don't hesitate to contact Director Martin Aagren Nielsen in Legal Services.