Totem: a new tool to improve the environmental performance of buildings

22-02-2018

Flemish Minister of Environment, Joke Schauvliege, Walloon Minister of Economy, Innovation and the digital sector, Pierre-Yves Jeholet and Joël Solé from Leefmilieu Brussel have launched Totem at Batibouw. Totem [Tool to Optimise the Total Environmental impact of Materials] is a transparent, simple, digital interface for the Belgian construction industry to objectify and reduce the environmental impact of buildings. The tool is the result of an intensive collaboration of Belgium's three regions. EnergyVille/VITO provided input for the underlying algorithms of the tool.

Together with universities and research institutions, OVAM, Leefmilieu Brussel and the Public Service of Wallonia have worked for five years on the realisation of TOTEM, an extensive scientific tool presented today at Batibouw.

TOTEM was created to:

  • stimulate the creativity of architects and project designers and realise projects which meet the environmental requirements of tomorrow;
  • evaluate the environmental impact of building materials or buildings based on scientific and objective procedures, adjusted to the Belgian market.
  • stimulate innovation and encourage eco-design in building elements.
     

Objective, transparent and innovative tool

TOTEM is a user-friendly interface, enclosing information about building elements and materials. TOTEM is entirely objective and transparent and enables all actors of the Belgian construction industry (architects, consulting firms, contractors, project developers, public governments, …) to identify the environmental impact of buildings and reduce it from the start of the planning stage. TOTEM is also a tool in constant development: in due time it is foreseen to link the tool to the federal B-EPD databank (Environmental Product Declaration), to upload data from the EPB-software and modulate circular building systems.

The impact of materials on the environment

The impact of building elements and building materials on the environment is often underestimated. Research indicates though they are responsible for 10 to 30 % of the total environmental impact. Throughout their entire life cycle, from the extraction of resources to the transport and the waste and recycling processes, they have their impact on the environment and opportunities exist to reduce this impact. A series of environmental indicators now visualize this impact. The choice of materials when building or renovating a house is therefore of utmost importance for the global ecological footprint of buildings. 

More information: https://www.totem-building.be