EU unveils new green building policy objectives

Friday 08th January 2016

The European Commission has started building the foundations of a common language around green building with the release of a major new working paper.  

For years the mainstream "green" building debate in Europe has centered heavily on energy, leaving voluntary green building certification to fly the flag for the wider sustainability agenda.

However, in a new paper published at the end of December, the Commission agreed a series of six high level objectives that will form the basis of forthcoming EU green building policy - which is set to shift the mainstream debate beyond energy. 

The objectives fall into two groups, the first focusing on lifecycle environmental issues, and the second encompassing quality, performance and value considerations. There are:

  1. Greenhouse gas emissions from building life cycle energy use
  2. Resource efficient material life cycles
  3. Efficient use of water resources
  4. Healthy and comfortable spaces
  5. Resilience to climate change
  6. Optimised life cycle cost and value

The Commission's hope is that establishing a simple common language will help more European governments and businesses start on the pathway towards greener building practices. The goal is to ensure that more comparable data on building performance can be collected across the region to help build the case for greening the market.

James Drinkwater, Regional Director of WorldGBC's Europe Network, said: "There is still a long journey ahead before the EU agrees its framework of core indicators for sustainable building assessment, and many more challenges to face in getting it implemented. Green Building Councils advocate best practice through comprehensive building assessment, but we are extremely excited about the potential of this simple framework to move the mainstream market beyond 'basic practice' towards 'better practice' on sustainability."

Read the executive summary or the full working paper.