The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has today (24 May 2022) launched a bold new policy plan for the European Union to accelerate progress on decarbonising buildings and construction, one of the most heavily emitting sectors in the world.
Developed with the support of a coalition of over 35 leading industry bodies through WorldGBC’s flagship #BuildingLife project, the EU Policy Roadmap is the first of its kind at EU scale to address the whole life carbon impact of the built environment, across multiple policy routes.
The roadmap will be launched at a conference on Tuesday 24 May 2022, attended by EU policymakers and representatives from across the built environment sector. Ciaran Cuffe, MEP (Greens), who is the Rapporteur for the current revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, will deliver a keynote reacting to the roadmap and the key role of buildings in tackling climate change. A panel debate will follow, between senior industry and public sector figures.
How the roadmap is driving action for the EU
The roadmap proposes a timeline of recommended actions for EU policymakers to accelerate the decarbonisation of buildings by 2050, tackling both CO2 emissions from their operation, and the long-overlooked impact of emissions from materials and construction.
Much of Europe’s building stock is old and inefficient and the European Commission has acknowledged that renovation rates must at least double. WorldGBC’s roadmap highlights the urgent need for more ambitious policy and financial support to enable energy efficient property upgrades.
Alongside this, buildings are still being constructed using carbon-intensive materials and processes, which sustains the high embodied carbon impact of the sector. That’s why the roadmap makes a series of recommendations on how EU policy can enforce the calculation and regulation of emissions across the whole life cycle of a building, as well as measures that will improve the circularity of building materials.
A failure to address this whole life carbon impact of buildings will likely mean the decimation of Europe’s remaining carbon budget, putting the EU Green Deal’s target of climate neutrality by 2050 and the goals agreed by policymakers at COP26 well beyond reach.
Four policy routes to decarbonise the EU’s built environment
The roadmap’s recommendations were developed with input from major business networks and industry associations, as well as environmental NGOs and city networks. Mapped out from now to 2050, they include milestones on how key EU policies and regulations affecting the building and construction sector should be tightened over time. The report is divided into four key policy routes:
- Building Regulations
- Waste and Circularity
- Sustainable Procurement
- Sustainable Finance.
It has further guidance on how EU, national and regional policy makers can align in what they ask of industry, encouraging a multi-level governance approach.
Finally, to ensure effective collaboration with the private sector, the roadmap also spells out ways that companies can support the implementation of the roadmap.
The full roadmap can be downloaded here.
Watch the event on the day via Teams here.
Cristina Gamboa, CEO, WorldGBC:
“Europe’s built environment is responsible for over a third of the region’s carbon emissions. Eliminating these emissions means we are fully tackling both the energy efficiency of the buildings themselves and decarbonising the many material supply chains that the sector relies upon.
“We are grateful for the strong support shown by so many leading organisations for the recommendations in this roadmap and we are calling on the European Commission, Parliament and Council to take note – and take action. The safe and sustainable future of Europe depends upon it.”
Carl Bäckstrand, Board Member, Architects Council of Europe:
“Considering the full lifecycle of buildings is essential so that designers can balance the often conflicting factors driving building performance. A lifecycle approach can save substantially more carbon compared to targeting operational savings only and to deliver 2050 targets new buildings and refurbishments should already be targeting net zero. We enthusiastically support the call in this roadmap for regulation to ensure that the unprecedented scale of investment in energy efficiency is also powering the creation of a circular economy – to keep construction emissions in check.”
Olympia Dolla, Sustainable Construction Manager, Eurima:
“Eurima is pleased to support this roadmap, which recognises the importance to tackle whole life cycle emissions of buildings. The industry needs a harmonised framework of tools addressing the embodied carbon of buildings also in the context of the upcoming EPBD revision. This revision represents only the first legislative milestones to be considered on the way to 2030 and 2050 goals and this roadmap provides much needed clarity to all involved as to what those milestones should look like.”
Roland Hunziker, Director, Built Environment, WBCSD:
“To get the construction industry on track to reach global climate targets, all companies need to start measuring the full carbon footprint of their real estate assets. WBCSD’s own research has shown that setting explicit targets from the start of a building project and through collaboration along the value chain, emissions could be halved in every building project by 2030. So it’s great to see the strong coalition of supporters backing this roadmap and its call for clear regulatory targets to be developed.”
Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director Europe and Managing Director, ICLEI European Secretariat:
“To successfully decarbonise Europe’s built environment, every governance level will have to be fully engaged in the process, working together to facilitate effective flow of funding, knowledge and data crucial to this transition. Moreover, it will be critically important that subnational levels are meaningfully engaged in policy-making processes, to ensure that on-the-ground realities are taken into account, sustainable procurement practices are fully leveraged, and local governments are adequately resourced to support market actors and disadvantaged groups. The #BuildingLife roadmap works towards this vision, providing deep insights into, and recommendations on, how policymakers can implement a ‘whole life’ carbon approach in a comprehensive and integrated manner.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
World Green Building Council (WorldGBC)
WorldGBC catalyses the uptake of sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere.
Transforming the building and construction sector across three strategic areas — climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity — we are a global action network of over 70 Green Building Councils around the world.
As members of the UN Global Compact, we work with businesses, organisations and governments to drive the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Through a systems change approach, our network is leading the industry towards a net zero carbon, healthy, equitable and resilient built environment.
#BuildingLife is a project convening ten European Green Building Councils to deliver the European Green Deal. These Green Building Councils will galvanise climate action through national and regional decarbonisation roadmaps, which will tackle the whole-life environmental impacts of the building and construction sector.
#BuildingLife focuses not only on the operational emissions of buildings, but also the environmental impact of the manufacturing, transportation, construction, and end-of-life phases – often called embodied emissions.
Tackling these emissions is essential to address the total impact of the built environment, and progress towards the European Green Deal’s aim of a climate neutral Europe by 2050.
The Green Building Councils spearheading the project are: Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.
#BuildingLife has received funding from the IKEA Foundation and Laudes Foundation as well as from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Climate Foundation.
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