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TOTEM: an online tool for architects that calculates the environmental footprint of buildings

Totem

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Country: 
Belgium

TOTEM is a Tool developed by the three Belgian regions, specifically OVAM, Brussels Environment and the Public Service of Wallonia, to Optimise the Total Environmental impact of Materials.

It aims to assess the environmental impact of urban buildings throughout their lifecycle and to optimise architectural choices. Moreover, it seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of a construction and renovation project by comparing relevant design options.

When evaluating buildings, TOTEM takes into consideration four core aspects:

  1. the production phase of the materials used,
  2. the on-site implementation phase (from transportation from the plant to the site to implementation of the material in the building),
  3. the use phase of the building, including maintenance of materials and consumption of energy,
  4. the end-of-life phase of the building, including demolition or waste treatment.

The core objective of the tool is to provide information enabling comparisons with other construction projects. Its database is available to all free of cost and can be accessed at: www.TOTEM-building.be.

  • Based on the information collected, TOTEM drafts an environmental profile of the building using European and JRC recommendations.
  • The environmental profile includes the fuel used to take materials to the site.
  • TOTEM also provides a detailed overview of the environmental profile of materials, components, building elements and buildings.
  • The indicators are monetised and calculated by multiplying the individual indicators by a monetisation factor: 1 kg CO2 equivalent x EUR 0.05/kg CO2 equivalent = EUR 0.05.