WorldGBC publishes EU roadmap for delivering net zero construction

Updated building regulations, a focus on sustainable procurement, and better modeling of the whole-life environmental impact of developments are all required. If the European Union is to accelerate progress on decarbonising buildings and construction, The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has said.

Launched this week, the EU Policy Roadmap has been developed with the support of a coalition of over 35 leading industry bodies through WorldGBC’s flagship #BuildingLife project. It is the first of its kind at EU scale to address the whole life carbon impact of the built environment, across multiple policy routes, WorldGBC said.

The roadmap proposes a timeline of recommended actions for EU policymakers to accelerate the decarbonization of buildings by 2050, with interim targets for 2025, 2026, 2028, 2030, and 2040. The polices are aimed at both helping developers tackle the CO2 emissions associated with their operation, and the “long-overlooked” impact of emissions from materials and construction.

WorldGBC warned EU policymakers that failure to address the whole life carbon impact of buildings “will likely mean the decimation of Europe’s remaining carbon budget”, putting both the EU Green Deal’s target of climate neutrality by 2050 and the international goals agreed at the COP26 Climate Summit at risk.

“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,” said Cristina Gamboa, CEO at WorldGBC: “We are grateful for the strong support shown by so many leading organizations 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.”

The roadmap’s recommendations were developed with input from major business networks and industry associations, as well as environmental NGOs and city networks. The report focuses on four key policy areas: building regulations, waste and circularity, sustainable procurement, and sustainable finance.

“As financial assets, buildings are at serious risk from climate change, both physically and from the potential economic impact of changing regulations. Introducing financial mechanisms that support sustainability would provide a powerful tool for improving the environmental and economic sustainability of Europe’s building stock,” the report notes.

The report also spells out ways that companies can support the implementation of the roadmap.

Olympia Dolla, sustainable construction manager at insulation manufacturer Eurima, said: “The industry needs a harmonised framework of tools addressing the embodied carbon of buildings also in the context of the upcoming EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings) revision. This revision represents only the first 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.”

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