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LIFE shines a light on more resource-efficient EU building practices

(Photo: LIFE00 ENV/A/000243) (Photo: LIFE00 ENV/A/000243)

Last month’s launch of the EU’s Energy Action Plan 2011 draws attention to the importance of promoting resource-efficient approaches to energy use in Europe’s buildings, and an interesting variety of LIFE projects have been involved with helping improve the energy efficiency potential of EU building stocks.

The EU has set itself a target of saving 20% of its primary energy consumption by 2020 and energy efficiency is increasingly promoted as one of the most cost effective ways to enhance security of energy supply, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and tackle other energy-related pollutants. Useful moves have already been made towards the EU’s ambitious objectives to reduce primary energy consumption (such as via EU appliances and building markets) but forecasts from the Commission still suggest that much more needs to be done.

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Energy, said in March that, "Despite progress, our estimates show that we need a further decisive and coordinated action on energy efficiency, without which the EU will not meet its objective of 20% energy savings by 2020.” Mr Oettinger was speaking at the launch of the EU’s new Energy Efficiency Plan (EEP) 2011 which he noted, “Paves the way for the longer-term policies needed to achieve a decarbonised and resource-efficient economy by 2050, and to place the EU at the forefront of innovation."

Among other points noted in the EEP, it highlights the importance of addressing energy efficiency in Europe’s building stock, because EU buildings account for as much as 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of EU CO2 emissions. Numerous LIFE projects have been busy working on finding solutions to help reduce such significant figures.

Resource-efficient buildings

 (Photo: LIFE06 ENV/D/000471) (Photo: LIFE06 ENV/D/000471)

These LIFE project actions fall within the Programme’s key objectives regarding the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and particularly so concerning the EU’s strategic goals for a resource-efficient Europe. A forthcoming LIFE conference to be held in May titled, “LIFE for our Environment: success stories and future challenges” will include exploration of the Programme’s current and future role in promoting strategic policy initiatives like the resource efficiency Flagship. LIFE projects’ support for promoting better energy-efficient buildings will be spotlighted at the conference and a special edition of the LIFE Focus brochure is also being produced to coincide with the conference that will feature a sample of LIFE’s resource-efficient building initiatives.

LIFE projects covered in the new brochure will include the likes of:

  • The Netherland’s LIFE00 ENV/NL/000808 EQuation project involving the demonstration of new energy efficiency methodologies for public and private sector stakeholders in the building trade;
  • Greece’s LIFE05 ENV/GR/000235 SUSCON project promoting Life Cycle Analysis techniques for improving the sustainability of construction programmes;
  • Germany’s LIFE06 ENV/D/000471 INSU-SHELL project investigating opportunities for reducing energy demands linked to the amount of concrete used in buildings;
  • Austria’s LIFE00 ENV/A/000243 S-House project which successfully tested innovative resource-efficient approaches in an office and exhibition building;
  • Spain’s LIFE07 ENV/E/000805 EDEA project targeting special attention at the energy efficiency needs of social housing buildings in Extremadura; and
  • France’s LIFE04 ENV/FR/000321 ECO-CAMPS project that illustrates the multiplier effects that can be possible from developing new eco-design and eco-engineering options for buildings, amenities and accommodation in EU campsites.

See the following articles in this edition of the newsletter for more information about LIFE’s role in encouraging energy-efficient buildings and the Programme’s forthcoming LIFE Environment conference.

Other examples of LIFE projects promoting energy efficient construction technologies can also be viewed via the Programme website’s Energy and Climate thematic section.

For yet more examples of projects funded by the programme, visit the LIFE project database.

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