Environment/industrial policy: Live and work in better buildings Published on: 02/07/2014, Last update: 29/07/2014
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."
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.
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 ovreall environmental performance of buildings. Research has shown that 79% of households across Europewould 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.
These 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.
With that in mind, together with stakeholders and national authorities, the Commission will now develop a framework with a limited framework of indicators for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. The aim is to provide a tool which can be used across Europe, by private actors and also by public authorities. A public consultation last year concluded that such a framework would be a major step towards boosting the supply of and demand for more environmentally friendly buildings. Steps will also be taken to directly improve the environmental performance of buildings. New proposals will make it easier to recycle construction and demolition waste, and to reuse it when constructing new buildings or renovating. This means less waste will end up in landfills, and fewer virgin materials will be required. The initiatives, together with the Communications on waste and the circular economy, green employment and the green action plan for SMEs also published by the Commission, launch a renewed resource efficiency agenda for the coming years.