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Politicians must show greater ambition in revision to EU building law

With a crucial vote fast approaching on the EU’s key piece of building legislation, WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network is calling on EU politicians to seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate carbon emissions from Europe’s building stock.

In Europe, buildings account for around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions. Embodied carbon, which refers to emissions from the construction, renovation, deconstruction or demolition and the wider supply chain of a building, contributes typically between 10-20% of the EU building carbon footprint. 

This is why in the ongoing Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) revision, the EU must adopt an approach that tackles both operational and embodied emissions – together known as Whole Life Carbon (WLC) – with energy efficiency measures, such as Minimum Energy Performance Standards, complemented with provisions on WLC reporting and targets. 

Without such measures, it is inconceivable that the EU will be able to deliver on its 2030 and 2050 climate targets.

Whilst it is encouraging that the rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs have struck a deal this week ahead of the parliamentary vote on 9 February, WorldGBC calls on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) to ensure this EPBD revision will: 

  • Accelerate building renovation and address energy use and efficiency via the introduction of Minimum Energy Performance Standards and harmonisation of Energy Performance Certificates.
  • Address total lifecycle emissions of buildings, including both operational and embodied emissions by supporting provisions regarding Whole Life Carbon reporting, targets, and thresholds.

By addressing these points, the EU can reap not only the climate benefits of more sustainable buildings, but also unlock the social and economic benefits of tackling energy poverty and creating up to 3.3 million green jobs in the EU every year whilst boosting local communities.

Widespread industry support for WLC policy

The launch of WorldGBC’s EU Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the building sector in 2022, with the support of a coalition of over 35 leading industry bodies, has demonstrated widespread support for the introduction of WLC policy.

This has been complemented by national WLC roadmaps developed by ten Green Building Councils across Europe with input from over 600 experts and organisations. These EU and national roadmaps were developed as part of the #BuildingLife project, which has also seen over 150 leaders publicly declare their commitment to policy addressing WLC in buildings, including nine Members of European Parliament.