The Buildings Performance Institute Europe has launched today a report on the status-quo of whole-life carbon policies in Europe, accompanied by a briefing outlining the Institute's policy recommendations on the subject!
The summary report "Whole-life Carbon: Challenges and solutions for highly efficient and climate-neutral buildings" introduces basic concepts and key issues related to the integration of whole-life carbon considerations in building policies, while the policy briefing "Introducing Whole-life Carbon metrics: Recommendations for highly efficient and climate-neutral buildings" demonstrates that carbon metrics are needed to align building policies and incentives with carbon-neutrality goals.
Both reports point out that:
- Carbon metrics, covering the Whole-Life Carbon (ie: the full life cycle of a building, from construction and procurement of materials to demolition), are necessary for achieving net-zero buildings and climate goals, in addition to operational energy performance metrics.
- In the drive to more ambitious building regulations, particularly now in view of ongoing policy revisions at EU level, attention should be paid to the right balance and breakeven points between embodied carbon and operational carbon.
- While some EU Member States have introduced comprehensive policy action (a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory measures) to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and construction, this should now be coordinated and regulated at European level
- Reducing WLC emissions simultaneously contributes to limiting resource depletion and reducing pollution. The principles and action to mitigate whole-life emissions are the same as improving circularity (e.g. reuse, reduce, avoid over specifications, consider local aspects and passive solutions, improve building resilience, flexibility and adaptability, extending the lifespan of buildings and components, improve recyclability).
- Applying WLC considerations in the construction sector does not only apply to materials but equally to processes, including improving material flows, enhancing productivity, eliminating waste and reducing delays, which are all important factors to increase the competitiveness and environmental performance of the sector.
- Early actions taken by a few Member States demonstrate that WLC policies are possible and desirable. A common EU level approach could yield additional benefits in terms of greater transparency, comparability and monitoring of progress across borders and industries.