The circular economy will be an essential building block of a climate-neutral Europe. A circular economy means making the most of our resources, doing more with less while reducing waste and energy use. This is a huge challenge for the construction sector, which uses about half of the resources extracted around the world. Europe can’t build a circular economy without focusing on the built environment.
It is important to remind ourselves that as one of Europe’s largest economic sectors (almost 10% GDP) the construction is a very divers industry that includes a huge number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
These SMEs will be instrumental in achieving the EU’s circular economy and carbon neutrality objectives. They need clear support to participate and strive in the sustainable built environment.
Commitment to the Energy Efficiency First principle and the energy efficiency of buildings regulatory framework established over recent decades have already shown that Europe can be a leader.
The EU has set itself an ambitious objective of achieving highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050. This has already mobilised investors and policy makers to start delivering a new generation of nearly zero energy buildings.
Because some 97 percent of existing European buildings will need to be renovated, the 2050 target also spurs investment in the buildings we live and work in every day. This commitment needs to be combined with a social transition for buildings.
Renovation is designed to improve energy efficiency, and so to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and the dangers of climate change. Our health and well-being will equally benefit from better buildings.
By putting the principles of sustainability and circularity at the centre of the building sector’s transformation, the EU can deliver maximum value for society.
Leading design & consultancy firm Arcadis report shows that by 2050, buildings must be resource efficient, climate resilient, circular, and deconstructable. Buildings of the future must deliver energy, be responsive and flexible in use.
The buildings we live and work in must support healthy lifestyles and enable working in a 24-hour economy.
The EU has already begun to develop a system that could realise the vision for a circular and climate-neutral built environment. The system is called Level(s).
Level(s) is a way of assessing the energy performance of buildings, as well as other elements such as resource use, comfort, and resilience to climate change.
There are two ways in which the next European Commission and the newly installed members of the European Parliament can use Level(s) to help deliver a sustainable built environment.
Firstly, Level(s) should become part of Green Public Procurement guidelines for buildings. Secondly, legislation on the Energy Performance of Buildings could become legislation on the Sustainability Performance of Buildings.
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