New report from European Commission provides first-ever, common definition of a European Digital Building Logbook

The lack of a common repository for all relevant building data amounts to additional costs and inefficiencies, stifled innovation, increased risk and low investor confidence. A Digital Building Logbook could overcome this through increased data transparency and availability to a broad range of market players.

The new report is part of a study commissioned by EASME (Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), on the development of a European Union framework for a Digital Building Logbook.

Written by BPIE, with important contributions from Vito and R2M Solution, the report represents an important first step towards developing an EU framework for a Digital Building Logbook.

The term “Digital Building Logbook” including similar terms, e.g. building passport, has become a buzzword amongst buildings professionals, with many different interpretations, both in terms of what it is and what it should be. The report represents an important breakthrough, providing a first-ever definition of the term, building on a first state-of-play analysis published in July 2020, as well as input from a diverse range of stakeholders across Europe.

The current study on the “EU-wide Framework for a Digital Building Logbook (DBL)” aims to support the widespread use of DBLs across Europe. The DBL has the potential to contribute to a number of high-profile policy initiatives including the strategy “A Europe fit for the digital age”, the “European Green Deal” and its Renovation Wave, the new Circular Economy Action Plan and the forthcoming Strategy for a Sustainable Built Environment. 

The capturing and maintenance of data and information is the backbone of the DBL, as consistently emphasised by the interviewed and surveyed experts. A systematic, well-organised and standardised scheme for data gathering and storage would alleviate several deficiencies of the current practices. Firstly, due to the absence of a systematic approach to capturing, storing, analysing and organising it, valuable data and information are lost. Secondly, the storage of data is fragmented and scattered across several organisations (and even departments within the same organisation). Thirdly, data that is collected and stored by one individual actor is not necessarily accessible and available to other actors in the value chain.

The findings highlight the potential of DBLs to encourage data transparency and increased data availability to a broad range of market players, including property owners, tenants, investors, financial institutions and public administrations.

According to one of the lead authors, Jonathan Volt (BPIE), the Digital Building Logbook  (DBL) can play a key role in the Renovation Wave and enable circularity in the construction and building sector. “The Digital Building Logbook could bring together all relevant building data and makes sure the right person has access to the right information, at the right time. This would facilitate circularity in the construction and building sector, optimise operation and maintenance, and enable better-informed decisions.” 

The Digital Building Logbook brings together all relevant building data (including material which then can be used to simplify recycling) and makes sure the right person has access to the right information, at the right time.

Data concerns almost every aspect of the built environment: from how individuals and businesses use and interact with properties, to how a building’s energy consumption and construction details are recorded and analysed to support informed decisions about construction and real estate processes. Data is used for benchmarking and progress tracking of performance improvements and energy use, business planning, internal and external reporting, risk assessment and financial underwriting.

The availability of consistent and reliable data can contribute to better design, construction and management of buildings, improved market information and transparency, creation of innovative services and business models, as well as more effective policymaking. Studies suggest that the construction sector is underdeveloped in terms of overall digitalisation and data applications in comparison with other industrial sectors. Building-related data (such as data of physical building characteristics, environmental performance information and real estate transaction data) continues to be scarce, of unreliable quality and limited accessibility. The lack of a common data repository amount to additional costs and inefficiencies, stifle innovation, increase risk and undermine investor confidence. 

Several European countries have developed and implemented DBL-type initiatives over the last years, including, for example, the Woningpas in Flanders (BE), the private initiative BASTA in Sweden and the PTNB in France. All these initiatives share a common objective to increase data availability and transparency to a broad range of market players. The existing DBLs all differ in terms of focus (e.g. on energy efficiency, construction process or materials), data handling and digital solutions employed.

While paper-based logbooks still exist, it is widely accepted that to reap the most benefits of such tool digital features are required. A common European approach covering the entire lifecycle and comprising all relevant building information could increase learning and enable synergies, interoperability, data consistency and information exchange.

A public stakeholder workshop on DBLs, organized by BPIE, will be held as follow up to this study, in Q4 2020. More information to follow.

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BPIE supports evidence-based policy making by providing data and knowledge through its reports, as well as partnering in several European projects.


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