The EU needs a whole-life carbon roadmap for buildings

(EurActiv, 6 Dec 2022) EU policymakers should deliver a comprehensive whole-life carbon roadmap in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. A strong stance on whole-life carbon impacts would have the power to nudge national governments and industry towards decisive climate action, writes Zsolt Toth.

Zsolt Toth is team lead at the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE). 

It is by now common knowledge that EU buildings represent 36% of our CO2 emissions. However, this number does not account for embodied emissions from production, construction, renovation and demolition, which represent substantial carbon savings potential. 

Embodied emissions are indicative of 50% of EU material consumption and 30% of the waste contribution from buildings. These emissions also represent 10% of global CO2 emissions and are expected to grow substantially as developed countries renovate their ageing building stock, and developing regions intensively build to house rapidly growing populations.

The good news: the ongoing negotiations on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), expected to conclude in summer 2023, represent a unique opportunity to broaden the narrative on building decarbonisation to include the full range of building emissions, and put an actionable framework into place. 

For this to happen, the Parliament position to be provisionally agreed upon in the coming weeks, and voted upon in January, must now bring a comprehensive regulatory roadmap on whole-life carbon (WLC) to the negotiating table. 

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EurActiv, 6 Dec 2022: The EU needs a whole-life carbon roadmap for buildings