New EN 17680 supports the sustainable refurbishment of buildings

The refurbishment of buildings is the process of renovating, updating, or restoring an existing building to improve its condition. It is crucial not only for environmental considerations, but also for a variety of other reasons, ranging from saving costs to preserving cultural heritage and to enhancing safety.

In recent years, the European Union has put forth several policies and initiatives promoting the refurbishment of buildings to achieve energy efficiency, sustainability, and economic benefits. Among them, we find the Renovation Wave Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan, and the soon-to-be-updated Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.


However, do all buildings need to or can they be refurbished? Not quite. The decision to refurbish a building depends on various factors, including its condition, age, purpose, and compliance with current regulations and standards.


The recently published EN 17680:2023 ‘Sustainability of construction works - Evaluation of the potential for sustainable refurbishment of buildings’ supports the strategic decision process on how to refurbish existing buildings in a sustainable way, taking into consideration that not all buildings should be refurbished if the existing conditions of a building do not permit it.


According to the text of the standard, the starting point for decisions on the (further) handling of existing buildings is a comprehensive analysis. This includes a building diagnosis to determine damage, and an assessment of the current technical and functional performance. The potential for an improvement in the performance of the building and the effort it requires are also assessed. During this assessment, other elements are taken into consideration, such as the need to align with possible future user requirements or possible uses, the changing political and legislative environment, the market situation, environmental conditions, social values, and technical progress.


The results of this analysis can be used to make fundamental decisions on how to deal with existing buildings. If refurbishment or repurposing are viable options, these can be investigated using the results of a building diagnosis and after a sustainability assessment conducted in accordance with EN 15643 ‘Sustainability of construction works - Framework for assessment of buildings and civil engineering works’.

EN 17680 also offers a procedure to assess the performance characteristics of existing building based on an indicator system and classification levels.


EN 17680:2023 was developed by CEN/TC 350 'Sustainability of construction works', which is responsible for the development of horizontal standardized methods for the assessment of the sustainability aspects of new and existing construction works. Its Secretariat is held by AFNOR, the French National Standardization Body. The standard is a first edition.


Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on, your device to remember your preferences.

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.

I accept all cookies