DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CERTIFICATIONS AND ECOLABELS AND QUALITY LABELS
We’ve all heard of environmental certification systems, eco-labels and quality seals associated with buildings and construction products. However, there are quite a few differences between them that should be clarified.
When we talk about the environmental certification of a building, we are talking, for example, about BREEAM, LEED, LiderA, SbTool or Well certification, among others. The first two are the best known worldwide and can certify residential buildings, services or other developments, showing on a scale how sustainable the object being assessed can be, particularly in terms of its energy efficiency and reducing its ecological footprint. However, there are building products that have been awarded the BREEAM or LEED label, which means that the use of that product will add value to the assessment scale of these certification systems. Therefore, if you are considering one of these certifications, it will be advantageous to use materials recognized by BREEAM and LEED, depending on the system to be used.
If we’re talking about PassivHaus certification, we’re also talking about certification applied to buildings. Originating in Germany, the passive house concept only focuses on ensuring a building is more energy efficient, guaranteeing little or no heating and/or cooling needs. At no stage does this concept prioritize sustainability in terms of the materials and location of the building. In other words, its contribution to a more sustainable building, or reducing the ecological footprint, is only to boost the reduction of CO2 emitted by air conditioning systems, since this certification aims to make this equipment dispensable. PassivHaus also recognizes construction solutions suitable for a passive building, such as window frames, roofing systems and others.
Then there are the eco-labels applied to building materials. These are intended to be a voluntary instrument that promotes products with a high level of environmental performance, with the aim of reducing the negative impact of production and consumption on the environment, health, climate and natural resources. The ISO (International Standardization Organization) is a non-governmental organization made up of various entities in various countries, which, as the name suggests, aims to work towards the standardization of norms throughout the world. It essentially distinguishes between three eco-labels:
- Type 1 – these are voluntary labels that assess multiple environmental criteria for each product category;
- Type 2 – are self-declarations or spontaneous claims made by the suppliers or manufacturers themselves, without external assessments and without the use of pre-established criteria.
- Type 3 – these are the most sophisticated and complex labels, as they require extensive databases to assess the product in all its phases, providing the exact dimension of the environmental impacts.
We have SV 14024 – sustainable value, which is a Type 1 environmental label; any symbology to identify environmental improvements in a product, developed by the company itself, is a Type 2 label, and all EPDs are Type 3 labels. But there are other equally important and very demanding labels, such as Cradle to Cradle (C2C). This certification is a scientific mark, developed by a chemist and an architect, which attests to the quality of products through various levels and attributes, making an exhaustive analysis of the product’s life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to its final destination, focusing on the circular economy.
There are, however, other specific certifications, such as QUALANOD for a material, which is a brand license that guarantees the high quality of a specific material – anodized aluminium.
All the certifications, labels or seals mentioned here are voluntary and add value to the building or construction product. However, it is necessary to be aware of what each one represents in order to understand its best applicability. You can find more information on our portal under the tab: certification.
Aline Guerreiro, PCS