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These are the nine principles of CESBA. All CESBA indicators, tools, outputs, and services follow these principles.

The user first

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CESBA focuses on the people who use buildings. On average people spend 90% of their life inside buildings. The aim is to design, build and operate the buildings in order to meet the users’ requirements and needs, providing an improved comfort, and an ecological and economical construction and operation.

  • The users are the main actors in a building. The awareness for their rights and responsibilities builds the base for win-win situations. Obtaining the users’ participation and support is crucial to achieve the highest quality of use and energy-efficient building operation.
  • The monitoring of building performance indicators guarantees a sufficient check of the building’s function ability and comfort provided to users. The indicators used to communicate performance to the end users have to be target-oriented and easily understandable.
  • The revolutionary approach of CESBA is the change of the perspective. By putting the user at the centre of the initiative, the purpose becomes to design, construct, operate and maintain buildings to meet their functional requirements and comfort.



Sustainability regards economic, environmental and social aspects. A sustainable built environment. The term built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from buildings and parks or green space to neighbourhoods and cities that can often include their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply, or energy networks. The built environment is a material, spatial and cultural product of human labor that combines physical elements and energy in forms for living, working and playing. It has been defined as the human-made space in which people live, work,and recreate on a day-to-day basis.[1]

Regional contextualization

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Building assessment systems must becontextualized to the region where they are applied, in order to reflect thelocal specific priorities, cultures, habits, and construction practices. Thismeans using local units of measure, adopting national / regional standards andregulations, giving due consideration to the local climate, and accounting for availabilityof natural resources and cultural aspects of design. At local level it is fundamental to set therelative importance of environmental, social, economic, legal and politicalissues. Each criterion included in the assessment tool should be assigned arelative weight and a reference benchmark (minimum acceptable performancelevel) adequate to the local conditions. The value of rating results diminishes whensystems are used in contexts outside of their origin.


The performance results shall be comparable thanks to points/targets. Further national tools shall be translated into one language. Further the inputs in the assessment shall be defined and not the outputs.

Mass orientation

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Building rating systems can play a key role in moving the built environment towards a better sustainability. To reach this objective they have to be widely adopted by the different stakeholders of the building sector: architects, designers, public organizations, construction companies, investors, etc. Only a “mass oriented” approach allows reaching this objective. “Mass oriented” means that the objective of the certification is to reach 100% of constructions. A mass oriented assessment system has to fulfill some key requirements:

  • simple to use
  • affordable (cost and time)
  • contextualized (use of local standards)
  • open source

Simple to use

A “mass oriented” building assessment system has to find a right balance between the simplicity to use and the scientific/technical value. The assessment must be precise, not simplified, clear and visible. A system requiring complicated calculations or the availability of data that are not easy to find would request too much time and effort (costs) to be widely used. Simplicity helps the dissemination of assessment systems among the stakeholders. Effective training courses can be implemented to improve the skills of professionals in building assessment.

Open Source

Using an open source approach allows CESBA to be appropriate to its context by paying special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economic aspects of the community it is intended for. Consequently, this approach allows for regional adaptations in the guidance system. In addition, the open source approach allows CESBA to be a low-cost alternative to more expensive and proprietary alternatives of sustainable building assessments. The open-source way also provides for low entry barriers for users and supporters of CESBA. CESBA is able to continuously integrate collective community wisdom. The transnational Open-Source approach offers new ways of knowledge transfer and networking, enhanced through the participation and cooperation of EU funded projects. It allows capitalizing on experiences, processes, tools, etc. developed by finished and on-going EU-funded projects. The open source way provides a bottom-up initiative for the standardisation and harmonisation of sustainable building assessments. The knowledge and results generated by CESBA can be used to support incentive systems, regulations and laws on a regional, national and European level.


The public should have access to the performance results especially for public buildings. Privacy rules have to be considered. The visualisation of the results must be understandable. Guidance for further understanding shall be delivered. For the assessment a guideline is laid out before the assessment. All indicators have to be checked step by step along the guideline. An external certification body does the final check. The simplicity and transparency procedures (guideline, external independent control) guarantee the best possible quality of the assessment.


CESBA is developed by several people andorganisations from various European regions, with experts providing input ontheir field by contributing as Wiki editors. The knowledgebase and further areasof content development are discussed and agreed during common and open CESBAsprint workshops. All necessary support software, databases and tools will bejointly developed.


  1. wikipedia article about built environment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Built_environment