By Audrey Nugent, WorldGBC Director of Global Advocacy
At the end of May 2022, WorldGBC launched an EU Policy Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the built environment.
In this series of blogs from WorldGBC, we are going to look at how we developed the Roadmap, at our vision for a decarbonised built environment and how to get there. We’ll be speaking to some of the people who were involved in the process along the way to get their insights on how this Roadmap can catalyse political action and the steps we can all take to support its implementation.
In this first instalment, Audrey Nugent, WorldGBC’s Director of Global Advocacy, introduces the Roadmap and the ideas behind it.
What is the EU Policy Whole Life Carbon Roadmap?
The Roadmap is a set of specific policy recommendations aimed primarily at the European Commission. These are actions and changes that we and the stakeholders involved in this project believe can help to deliver our common vision for the EU’s built environment by 2050, which is:
“Every European citizen lives in a totally decarbonised, circular, resilient and well-designed built environment that facilitates a high quality of life.”
The Roadmap addresses four cross-cutting and complementary policy routes:
This breadth of scope to our recommendations reflects the need to reform a range of EU legislation that covers Europe’s buildings in order to deliver our vision.
Why did we decide to make a Roadmap?
At the time of starting work on the Roadmap, the Whole Life Carbon impact of buildings was a concept that was yet to enter the European policy framework in a meaningful way.
European building policy is primarily focused on tackling the operational emissions of a building and whilst this is important, it neglects the carbon impact of the manufacturing, transportation, construction, and end-of-life phases of built assets – often called embodied carbon emissions. It is estimated that embodied carbon today contribute typically between 10-20% of the EU building CO2 footprint. However, in some countries with low carbon energy grids, the share can already be as high as 50%.
Therefore, we decided to produce the roadmap as a tool that provide European policymakers with a blueprint for how the existing policy framework can be used to tackling the full impact of buildings, and harness their potential as an integral way of meeting the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, set out in the EU Green Deal.
Across our network of 23 European Green Building Councils and their nearly 5000 members, we perceive a growing appetite for action on Whole Life Carbon from both industry and politicians. A growing number of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have joined our #BuildingLife campaign, including Ciaran Cuffe who is now the Rapporteur for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. At the national level we were also beginning to see EU member states develop their own Whole Life Carbon policies, such as in Finland and France. So it was clear that the market was ready for an EU level roadmap.
How did we develop the Roadmap?
The development of the roadmap took almost 18 months and involved consulting with many different businesses, policy makers and NGOs across Europe.
WorldGBC convened a European Leadership Forum, which brought together organisations that represented the breadth of the built environment value chain, who provided strategic input and helped to steer the direction of the Roadmap.
The work was also supported by a Technical Working Group comprising a range of industry stakeholders who helped us with technical input and analysis to the Roadmap policy recommendations.
Finally, WorldGBC and GBCs from the European Network brought together government representatives from countries around Europe, who provided a national perspective on the development of the Roadmap.
Following several rounds of consultation and revision, we finalised our Roadmap recommendations in April 2022. We held a hybrid launch event in Brussels and online on 24 May, where we presented the roadmap to Ciaran Cuffe and to an audience of sector and political leaders from across Europe.
The development of the roadmap is only the start of this process.
We are now looking to work with policymakers at the national and EU level for ways to implement our recommendations into legislation.
We are also working closely with our network of European GBCs, ten of whom have developed their own Whole Life Carbon Roadmaps as part of the #BuildingLife project.
WorldGBC is also looking for further #BuildingLife ambassadors to join our ever-expanding group of more than 150 political and built environment leaders who are advocating for policy that tackles the Whole Life Carbon impact of buildings.