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Sustainable buildings

The building sector is one of the most resource consuming sectors in EU. Looking at the whole life cycle of a building, from the extraction of materials, the manufacturing of construction products, construction, use and maintenance, buildings in the EU amount for about:

  • 1/2 of extracted materials
  • 1/2 of energy consumption
  • 1/3 of water consumption
  • 1/3 of waste generated

The European Commission in its Communication on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector (2014) identified the need for a common EU approach to the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings. The starting point would be 'common framework of core indicators'. The framework would be rigorous enough to drive improvement in performance and allow for comparison between buildings.

The European Commission's 2015 Communication with the Circular Economy Action Plan furthermore reiterates this objective and adds that, given the long lifetime of buildings, it is essential to encourage design improvements that will reduce their environmental impacts and increase the durability and recyclability of their components. The Commission will develop indicators to assess environmental performance throughout the lifecycle of a building, and promote their use for building projectsthrough large demonstration projects and guidance on GPP.

A study was thus initiated by the European Commission in 2015 to develop an initial framework of core indicators, with the idea that they would be flexible in their use, so that they could potentially be incorporated into new and existing assessment schemes, or be used on their own by a diverse range of stakeholders, including public authorities, design teams and property investors. It is important to emphasise that the intention is not to create a new standalone building certification scheme, or to establish performance benchmarks, but rather that it should provide a voluntary reporting framework that has a broad potential for use by building sector professionals across the EU. The study is about to present a framework in summer 2017. The name given to this framework is "Level(s)", referring to the different levels at which the framework can be used. Once the framework is presented, this webpage will be updated accordingly.

All information related to the study can be found here:

Communication "Resource efficiency opportunities in the building sector"

In 2014, the Europeaan Commission adopted the Communication "Resource efficiency opportunities in the building sector" based on an Impact assessment roadmap. The general objective of this initiative is to reduce the environmental impact of buildings by improving the overall resource efficiency and, as a consequence, improve the related competitiveness of construction businesses.

The idea is thus, via the development of a framework of core indicators, to:

  • Raise awareness of and demand for better environmental performing buildings, among private consumers, developers and public purchasers;
  • Improve knowledge and information regarding resource use and related environmental impacts in relation to buildings in order to support decision making among designers, architects, developers, construction companies, construction product manufacturers, investors, consumers, etc.

In the preparation of the communication, the European Commission organised a public consultation on sustainable buildings between July and October 2013. The result of this consultation can be found here.

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