Construction clean-up looms as Green Deal approaches

(EurActiv, 25 Nov 2019) Cleaning up the construction industry will be one of the major challenges for EU policy over the next decade, given the scale of emissions produced by the sector. Policymakers and industry leaders insist they are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Embodied carbon, or the materials that go into a building’s construction like steel and cement, makes up 11% of global emissions. That is more than 3,000 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

According to non-profit group Architecture 2030, slashing emissions from this part of the construction process is essential as it is difficult to decarbonise materials once they are locked into a building.

Operational carbon emissions, by contrast, can be reduced gradually over time by increasing energy efficiency measures and tapping into more renewable power sources. Those emissions represent around 28% of the global total.

At an event on the subject held in Brussels on 19 November, the World Green Building Council’s James Drinkwater said that “we need to have a conversation about whole-life carbon”, taking into account both sources of construction emissions.

Buildings are already regulated by a number of rules and laws, including the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the main goal of which is to increase renovations rates of existing stock.

Factors like building codes are a national competence and are therefore set by member state governments rather than the EU.

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EurActiv, 25 Nov 2019: Construction clean-up looms as Green Deal approaches