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Green Building Councils urge European Commission to recognise unparalleled potential of the built environment sector in delivering a climate neutral Europe

Today, over 20 countries from the World Green Building Council’s Europe Network, (WorldGBC Europe) have signed an open letter urging the European Commission to recognise the vital role of the built environment sector in delivering a climate neutral Europe. The letter comes as European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, outlines the European Commission’s vision for a climate neutral Europe at COP24.

Representing over 4,500 diverse members of the construction and real estate sector across Europe, the network of Green Building Councils and partners assert that the EU2050 long-term strategy must recognise the unparalleled potential of the sector in delivering a climate neutral Europe and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Exploiting this potential is even more critical in light of the recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which warns that a rise above 1.5C will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods and extreme temperatures.

Buildings account for 36% of all emissions, 40% of energy and 50% of raw material extraction in the EU. Therefore, in order to mitigate against the catastrophic risks outlined in the report, the EU’s 2050 strategy must prioritise the reduction of operational carbon emissions in buildings and address the full life cycle impacts of the built environment sector.

Cautioning that the EU is placed to miss its 2020 energy efficiency targets because Europe’s buildings are not being renovated at the required rate, WorldGBC Europe urge the European Commission to work with countries, cities, companies and citizens to deliver renovation strategies that create the political and consumer support needed for the climate transition.

The letter further states that a net zero emissions economy is not possible unless the 2050 strategy addresses the full life-cycle potential of buildings, their impacts and opportunities, in addition to operational emissions. ‘Embodied’ emissions, together with wider life cycle impacts are the next big global challenge for the buildings sector.

WorldGBC Europe firmly believe that the European Commission’s recently established Level(s) framework has the potential to galvanise actors across the construction value chain to tackle these issues and create a climate neutral Europe. Launched in September 2017, Level(s) is a key part of the European Commission’s circular economy action plan, providing building sector stakeholder with a set of common indicators and metrics for measuring the life cycle environmental performance of office and residential buildings. However, it needs more political support at EU level to generate the necessary impact.

WorldGBC’s Europe network of GBCs and partners is currently finalising a new strategy for the coming years to scale-up the support it provides to the EU, governments and industry to meet these challenges.

To read the letter, click here.