LCA labels and certifications

BREEAM, BBCA, E+C-.... At a time when environmental issues are becoming increasingly present, it's not always easy to find one's way around the many labels and certifications linked toLCA in the world of construction. The article below sets the record straight.

Vizcab: RE2020 illustration

What are the main principles involved in getting a project labelled or certified?

Broadly speaking, a label or certification is the evaluation of a project, building or company according to a standard defined by a third party (public or private).

This assessment is most often :

  • Quantitative: conditional on obtaining a certain number of points,
  • Multi-criteria: takes into account several components of a project (e.g. re-use of materials, comfort for residents, energy efficiency, etc.),
  • Assessed by an independent third party specifically trained in the process.

What's the difference between a label and a certification?

To put it simply: a certification is governed by law, a label is not.
A label can be issued by a private body or an association to promote the performance of a material, craftsman or building in accordance with standards set by the organization issuing it. It is therefore not linked to any particular regulations.

Certification applies to services, products or companies, and is based on current regulations.

The main LCA-related labels and certifications.

Labels :

Vizcab: E+C- label logo


Created in 2016, the label is an experiment to introduce the new environmental regulations (RE2020), with a focus on positive energy (E+) and low carbon (C-). This new calculation method assesses the energy and environmental performance of new buildings.
It applies to all types of new housing.

Vizcab: BBCA low-carbon building logo

BBCA (Low Carbon Building) 

Issued by the BBCA association, this label recognizes all the low-carbon aspects of a building: construction (intelligent mix of materials, sober design, etc.) operation (low-carbon energy, renewable energies, etc.) carbon storage (use of bio-sourced materials) circular economy (selective deconstruction, reuse of products, sharing of spaces, potential for change of use, potential for extension).
Vizcab: HQE sustainable building logo / certified by certivea

HQE - Sustainable Building 

A label resulting from initiatives launched by various regional entities (Occitanie, Ile de France, Méditerranée, Nouvelle Aquitaine).
Although each Bâtiments Durables initiative is managed independently, they all operate on the same principles:

Accompaniment by third parties trained in the approach, who will ensure compliance with the standards throughout the project.
Adaptation to regional specificities.

Assessment at different stages (design, construction and operation), made up of professionals committed to the environmental quality of buildings.


7 themes are taken into account: project management, materials, water, social and economic, territory and site, energy, comfort and health.HQE

The main certifications linked to LCA :

Vizcab: BREEAM logo

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) :

BREEAM is a British certification based on the environmental assessment of a building. It is the most widely recognized international certification, currently used as a benchmark by eighty-three countries. Since its creation in 1990, over five hundred thousand buildings have been certified. 

As part of the certification study, the following criteria are taken into account for each phase of the building's life cycle:

  • energy management ;
  • Building pollution levels;
  • water management ;
  • waste recovery ;
  • the use of innovative processes;
  • people management ;
  • access to sustainable transport;
  • the health and well-being of occupants.

An overall score out of 100 is calculated on the basis of these eight criteria, and determines whether or not certification is awarded with a rating: from Good (score over 45) to Exceptional (score over 85).

Vizcab: US Green Building Council certification logo

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) :

This ecological certification for buildings was initiated by theUS Green Building Council. LEED is a mark of excellence for sustainable building construction. LEED projects are certified or currently undergoing certification in over 165 countries and territories. The criteria taken into account are :

  • Transport
  • Website
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Energy
  • Indoor environment
  • Innovation
Vizcab: HQE sustainable building logo / certified by certivea

H&E (Habitat and Environment):

H&E certification is similar to HQE. It takes into account the preservation of the environment throughout the building's life cycle. 

Seven environmental themes define Habitat & Environnement certification:

  • Management
  • Clean worksite, 
  • Energy, 
  • Construction and choice of materials, 
  • Water, 
  • Comfort and health, 
  • Green gestures. 

To qualify for H&E certification, a home must meet at least 6 of these 7 criteria, including management, energy and green actions. Five levels of certification (from A to E) are awarded.

Vizcab: NF Habitat logo

NF Habitat :

Issued by Qualitel, NF habitat certifies that the home in question is of good quality and technically efficient: good quality of life in the home, economic performance and respect for the environment.

Vizcab: Bâtiment Energie Environnement logo for new housing

BEE (Bâtiment Energie Environnement) :

This standard is designed to be readable, comprehensible and pragmatic, making it accessible to all types of building owners. Overall building performance is covered here in 4 targets based on the main pillars of the circular economy. 

  1. Building eco-design and project management 
  2. The building in its environment 
  3. Energy, carbon and materials efficiency 
  4. Uses and quality of life 

The references associated with this reference system make it possible to :

  • take advantage of government schemes: BEE+, Habitat Qualité ;
  • promote an exemplary approach: Biosourced building ;
  • certify partner labels: Effinergie, BBCA.

 A minimum of 145 points is required for certification.

Vizcab: picto Eval Import RSEE

In conclusion:

As you can see, there are many LCA-related labels and certifications! While certification is generally defined by law, labels are issued by private bodies. 

In any case, both attest to a certain level of quality in relation to a standard defined by the reference organization. So, depending on the type of project you're working on, you'll need to be vigilant in complying with one or the other, depending on their relevance, as described above.

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Vizcab: Results of low-carbon building studies

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Vizcab: RE2020 and the new environmental regulations

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