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Green housing campaigners are excited by a new sustainable buildings debate the EU has kick-started, which aims to move certification schemes beyond the energy efficiency paradigm

The European Commission launched a public consultation on the lifecycle impact of buildings, in advance of a communication which is expected at the beginning of 2014.  Building currently account for 40% of energy use in Europe and a less wasteful approach to their power consumption is at the heart of EU plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.  The anticipated Commission communication is likely to focus on resource use in a broader sense – to look at embodied energy in buildings, water usage, construction materials and waste according to a DG Environment official.  In the background document that was published with the consultation, the Commission argues that with energy efficiency of buildings in their use stage being covered by existing policies, the focus of this initiative will be on resources such as materials (including waste), water and embedded energy.  It goes on to say that the use of durable and well-sourced materials can have a major effect on its carbon footprint.  The consultation will cover ground ranging from the extraction of building materials to the demolition and recycling of materials at the end of a property’s lifecycle. Its results could in turn form the basis of new energy performance certification schemes for buildings in the future.  Experts believe that enhanced green building sector procurement rules are the key to progress as cash strapped local authorities are often preoccupied with upfront costs which often deterred environmentally-friendly building practices. The Commission’s consultation will look at the currently weak markets for waste management, low consumer awareness of resource-efficient buildings, and the ways in which financial and non-financial incentives might change this. An EU communication on Sustainable Building is expected at the beginning of 2014. READ MORE

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Issue 27