Climate neutral buildings roadmap for EU launched by Green Building Council

climate neutral buildingsThe World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has launched a new policy plan for the European Union to accelerate progress on decarbonising buildings and construction, one of the most heavily emitting sectors in the world. Developed with the support of a coalition of over 35 leading industry bodies through WorldGBC’s flagship BuildingLife project, the EU Policy Roadmap claims to be the first of its kind in Europe to address the whole life carbon impact of the built environment with the aim of creating climate neutral buildings.

The roadmap will be launched at a conference today (24 May 2022), attended by EU policymakers and representatives from across the built environment sector. Ciaran Cuffe, MEP (Greens), who is the Rapporteur for the current revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, will deliver a keynote reacting to the roadmap and the key role of buildings in tackling climate change. A panel debate will follow, between senior industry and public sector figures.

The roadmap proposes a timeline of recommended actions for EU policymakers to accelerate the decarbonisation of buildings by 2050, tackling both CO2 emissions from their operation, and the long-overlooked impact of emissions from materials and construction.

Much of Europe’s building stock is old and inefficient and the European Commission has acknowledged that renovation rates must at least double. WorldGBC’s roadmap highlights the urgent need for more ambitious policy and financial support to enable energy efficient property upgrades.

Alongside this, buildings are still being constructed using carbon-intensive materials and processes, which sustains the high embodied carbon impact of the sector. That’s why the roadmap makes a series of recommendations on how EU policy can enforce the calculation and regulation of emissions across the whole life cycle of a building, as well as measures that will improve the circularity of building materials.

A failure to address this whole life carbon impact of buildings will likely mean the decimation of Europe’s remaining carbon budget, putting the EU Green Deal’s target of climate neutrality by 2050 and the goals agreed by policymakers at COP26 well beyond reach.


Four policy routes

The roadmap’s recommendations for climate neutral buildings were developed with input from major business networks and industry associations, as well as environmental NGOs and city networks. Mapped out from now to 2050, they include milestones on how key EU policies and regulations affecting the building and construction sector should be tightened over time. The report is divided into four key policy routes:

  • Building Regulations
  • Waste and Circularity
  • Sustainable Procurement
  • Sustainable Finance.

It has further guidance on how EU, national and regional policy makers can align in what they ask of industry, encouraging a multi-level governance approach.

Finally, to ensure effective collaboration with the private sector, the roadmap also spells out ways that companies can support the implementation of the roadmap.