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European Commission Environment/industrial policy: Live and work in better buildings

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European Commission - IP/14/764  July 2, 2014.

The Commission adopted new proposals which aim to reduce the environmental impacts of new and renovated buildings by increasing resource efficiency and improving the information available about the environmental performance of buildings. The results should be: 

  • good for the environment. Almost one half of the EU's final energy consumption and extracted materials, and about one third of EU water consumption, are related to the construction and occupancy of buildings;
  • good for the building sector. Europe's construction sector generates almost 10% of GDP and provides 20 million jobs; and
  • good for occupants. Sustainable buildings are cheaper to operate and maintain and they have positive impacts on the occupants when it comes to health and well-being.

European Commission Vice-President Michel Barnier, acting Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "The construction sector should see today's proposals as a chance to innovate and attract new talent. New technologies offer big potential, not only for new houses, but also for renovating millions of existing buildings to make them highly energy efficient. Let's not miss this opportunity."

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "We hear a lot about the energy efficiency of buildings, but we need to look at the bigger picture as well. Better public information on environmental performance is a sure way of raising the overall performance of our buildings. That's good for the environment, good for people's health, and good for their wallets."

When buildings are constructed, used and demolished, they often have a substantial impact on our environment. While remarkable improvements have been achieved in the field of energy efficiency over the last years in the EU, very little information is available about the overall environmental performance of buildings. Research has shown that 79 % of households across Europe would like to be able to take environmental aspects into account when renting or buying a property. Despite that, less than 1% of buildings in Europe have been assessed in this respect.

Today's proposals would give architects, manufacturers of construction products, builders and anyone wanting to rent or buy a building access to better information about the environmental and health aspects involved. The environmental impacts of different options in design, construction, use and demolition could be compared more easily, which in turn would increase incentive for sustainable buildings around the EU.


To read the full EC press release:

The press release is also available in these languages: FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL CS ET HU LT LV MT PL SK SL BG RO HR