A major study conducted on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General Environment indicates that a significant reduction in resource use could be achieved in the built environment by 2030 with almost no effect on the European economy. The results of the study are being presented to stakeholders at a conference on 20 February 2014 in Brussels entitled ‘Scenarios Towards A Resource Efficient Europe - Resource-Efficiency Improvements in the Built Environment’, which will discuss further steps and actions that can be taken to increase resource efficiency. Read more…
The Europe 2020 Strategy establishes resource efficiency as a priority for ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe. In support of the initiative, the study has identified the inefficient use of resources with a focus on residential buildings, offices and built infrastructure. It has then gone on to assess the potential socio-economic and environmental effects of efficiency improvements up to 2050 and quantify them up until 2030.
The study team identified improvement options and associated costs at small and medium levels using Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing. This information was then fed into macro-economic modelling to assess the economy-wide impacts. The study found that much of the environmental impact of a building occurs during the construction phase; however, there are also significant resource efficiency opportunities in the operating phase. Mandatory and financial instruments have the highest impact on resource efficiency, whereby standardisation and certification play a major role in any policy mix.
To help inform stakeholders, ten topical papers have been produced describing key conceptual issues and choices made in the assessment. Five papers are available for download (see more info at end) and a further five are being finalised. Subjects include a top-down assessment of priorities, strategies for decoupling in the field of buildings and infrastructure, indicators for resource efficiency, validation of scenario results and policy implications.
The conference is free to attend and the draft final report will be sent in advance to all participants.
Find more info:
Topical Paper 1: Resource efficiency in the built environment – a broad-brush, top-down assessment of priorities
Topical Paper 2: Strategies for decoupling - options to consider in the field of buildings and infrastructure
Topical Paper 3: Potential approaches for modelling resource efficiency related to buildings and infrastructure. Reflections on a hybrid set-up
Topical Paper 4: Validation of (detailed) technical improvement options
Topical Paper 5: Policy options for resource efficiency as input for modelling