The web-based calculation tool TOTEM was launched in February 2018. The simple and transparent tool enables environmental impact calculations at the building (element) level and was developed as part of a collaboration between the three regional Belgian authorities, VITO / EnergyVille, KU Leuven and BBRI. Manufacturers of construction products and sector associations are able to upload their Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) to the Belgian EPD database which will be linked to TOTEM in the future.

TOTEM (“Tool to Optimise the Total Environmental impact of Materials”) is a user-friendly web-tool that allows the Belgian construction sector to evaluate and become aware of the environmental impact of buildings and building elements. The tool focuses on use by building designers and other stakeholders and aims at being transparent and objective. The basis for the tool is a method and expert model called MMG (“Environmental profile of building elements”), developed with the aim to consistently conduct an environmental impact assessment of building elements and buildings in Belgium. The method uses Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and includes various environmental indicators – including those used in EN15804 and in PEF – and monetarisation factors based on environmental external cost indicators, resulting in aggregated single scores.

Features of TOTEM:

  • Easy to use and transparent
  • Easy interpretation through the calculation of aggregated single scores
  • Calculations at the building & building element level
  • Library of generic building elements in line with Belgian construction practices
  • Allows the comparison of different building solutions

At this moment, TOTEM is based on generic environmental data. In the future, data from specific manufacturers or sector organisations coming from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) will also be available in TOTEM. Manufacturers can declare the environmental impacts of their product by creating an EPD and registering it in the Belgian EPD database. If the EPD is compliant with the Belgian EPD Programme and certain additional requirements are fulfilled, the B-EPD qualifies for integration in TOTEM. A first stage of EPD integration in TOTEM is planned for 2019. With this feature, TOTEM users will be able to compare building solutions (at the element level) by different manufacturers. This creates the ideal opportunity for manufacturers to show that their building solution is better than others. This will allow architects and contractors to make informed choices and meet the sustainability requirements of the future.

Future features of TOTEM:

  • Extended library of building elements and applied materials
  • Generic environmental information and specific data (EPDs)
  • Benchmarking

VITO / EnergyVille has been involved in the development of the MMG method – specific for the Belgian construction sector – from the beginning in 2010 and updated the method and related calculation model over the years. VITO / EnergyVille contributed to the development of TOTEM by supporting the IT developers and providing the necessary data and calculation algorithms. Current activities of VITO / EnergyVille are updating and further developing TOTEM and ensuring correct integration of EPDs in TOTEM in the future, by following up on all ongoing EPD requests and registrations in the Belgian EPD database, together with the Belgian federal public service and the three regional authorities.

More information

Tobias Denys


Tobias Denys

Project Manager Smart Energy and Built Environment at EnergyVille/VITO