Buildings must be at the heart of the European Green Deal. Here’s why

(EurActiv, 4 Dec 2019) Making our buildings climate-proof is not only about reducing the 36% of CO2 emissions they are responsible for, but about doing so while caring for the people that live in them, writes Oliver Rapf.

Oliver Rapf is executive director of the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), a not-for-profit think tank.

The European Green Deal (EGD) offers the opportunity to create a carbon-neutral Europe, a fairer society and a reinvigorated industrial powerhouse. Europe’s citizens must be at its heart – and nowhere is this more apparent than in the buildings sector.

Buildings are where we spend most of our time, and much of our money: for those who can afford it, buying a house is likely to be the biggest investment of a lifetime.

Making our buildings climate-proof is not only about reducing the 36% of CO2 emissions they are responsible for, but about doing so while caring for the people that live in them. That’s why the transformation of the buildings sector must have a prominent role in the EGD.

We need to transform our buildings and cities in response to the climate emergency just declared by the European Parliament and ensure they are resilient to climate change impacts – but we also need to ensure that the decarbonisation of the sector benefits European citizens and keeps housing affordable.

Delivering a zero-carbon buildings stock will require significant changes in the way the construction industry provides services and solutions. We also need new mechanisms to trigger investments in building upgrades. The EGD must make it clear that the built environment is a priority infrastructure for Europe. This would accelerate the shift to a decentralised, highly efficient, interconnected and decarbonised energy system.

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EurActiv, 4 Dec 2019: Buildings must be at the heart of the European Green Deal. Here’s why