An integrated life-cycle-oriented approach
Sustainable construction is one of the six markets in the Lead Market Initiative. It involves environmental concerns, health aspects and issues of convenience. Buildings account for the largest share of the total EU final energy consumption (42%) and produce about 35% of all greenhouse emissions.
The Sustainable construction sector
Sustainable solutions in residential and non-residential buildings as well as in infrastructure constructions are included in this market area. It involves for example efficient heating installations, in-door air quality systems and issues related to elderly persons' independence. The construction market accounts for 10% of GDP and 7% of the workforce. More than 50% of all materials extracted from earth are transformed into construction materials and products.
The plethora and mismatch of building regulations at EU and national levels leads to considerable administrative burdens and - given that the business structure is predominantly local - to a very fragmented sustainable construction market. Many technical solutions are already available, but demand is highly fragmented. 40% of demand for construction works comes from the public sector, but decision-makers are unaware of the scope for adopting innovation-oriented solutions. There is a lack of knowledge on possibilities for public procurement that could facilitate demand for innovation-oriented solutions. The introduction of life-cycle and cost-benefit assessments could facilitate the public procurement of sustainable construction .
Besides applying its better regulation policy, the Community may further render the regulatory framework more efficient by accompanying measures and awareness campaigns, in order to provide a common reference model on sustainability in the market area. Standardisation measures can improve the situation and introduce concepts relevant for sustainability. The Action Plan for sustainable construction presents a comprehensive list of measures to further stimulate a market for products and services in sustainable construction in Europe. These measures endeavor to build a coherent basis for progressive step changes to regulation, standardisation and public procurement practices fostering innovation and sustainability in construction. It is expected through this framework to raise awareness and acceptance about the need to transform the way the customer decides and the supply chain operates. The LMI could considerably speed up the access of citizens and business to new buildings features with enhanced quality of life and working conditions.
- Screening of national building regulations
- Mid-term progress report of Sustainable Construction [405 KB] (published in September 2009)
- Action plan for sustainable construction [20 KB]
- Sustainable construction taskforce report [211 KB] (composed in preparation for the Lead Market Initiative )
2nd generation Eurocodes
The widening of the scope of the Eurocodes from the current structural design focus to other design criteria related to sustainability requires as a first step an assessment looking at technical issues as well as the modalities for cooperation within standardisation bodies. This initial assessment of the coordination needs is undertaken by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) Working Group 206 “CEN contribution to the EU lead market initiative”. At the same time, CEN Technical Committee 250 “Structural Eurocodes” is currently developing a medium term strategy on the development work needed for the existing standards. Preliminary results should be available during the 4th quarter of 2009. Based on this initial assessment, the Commission will identify, in cooperation with CEN/CENELEC (European Committee for electrotechnical Standardisation) and Joint Rresearch Centre Ispra, the main steps forward for developing Eurocodes encompassing sustainability aspects.
Screening of national building regulations
In sustainable construction, a steering group composed of Member States, trade and professional organisations and research organisations will perform a systematic screening of national building regulations and prepare case studies on administrative costs and good practices for simplification of administrative procedures in the construction sector. An operational concept was discussed at the meeting of the working group on ‘Regulatory Framework and Standardisation’ on 6th April 2009.
Based on this concept, the Commission intends to launch a call for tenders to support the implementation of the actions in 2009-2010.
Network Contracting Authorities
The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) call for proposals envisaged actions to establish networks of public procurement authorities. The aim of these networks is to enable public procurers to improve their knowledge about available innovative solutions, to allow a better coordinated dialogue with suppliers about the future needs and to realise the benefits of European cooperation in exchanging experience in procurement practices. As a result of the call for proposals, two networks of public procurers in the area of sustainable construction will be funded with a contribution of one million € each for a period of 3 years. The networks will start their activities around September 2009.
Upgrading of skills of construction workers
An appraisal of existing training systems in the Member States and their ability to respond to changing needs has been undertaken. Following the identification and an assessment of a large number of innovative approaches and good practices in the EU, an outline strategy has been developed. To goal is to provide an assessment of future needs for skills and competencies in construction enterprises according to plausible scenarios for the development of the sector in the medium term (10-12 years) and the likely effects of the main anticipated technological, economic, environmental and social developments.
This action was completed in March 2009. These studies undertaken on behalf of Enterprise and Industry DG and Employment DG will provide the basis for a political framework for the development of sectorial strategies. A debate with representatives from the new European Parliament was organised at the end of 2009.