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Circular buildings: Paving the way to a net-zero industry
Author: Meta Thurid Lotz; Andrea Herbst
Region of Activities: Global
Subject: Circularity
Origin: Institute for Energy Efficicency and Climate Policy (IEECP)

This policy brief covers the following key messages:

  • A circular economy can contribute significantly to reduce carbon emissions and achieve the climate targets in the hard-to-abate sectors
  • Buildings are a key value chain related to a high demand for energy-intensive materials and characterised by high circularity potentials
  • Within the EU-funded project newTRENDs, a modelling approach and data basis were developed and applied, that quantify the contribution of circular buildings to the industry decarbonisation
  • Besides the cycling of materials, actions addressing building design and use can reduce steel and cement demand for buildings by up to 38% respectively 26% in 2050
  • The current EU policy mix is not sufficient to exploit these material demand emissions reduction potentials
  • newTRENDs recommends to focus on 5 key points to improve the policy mix, highlighting the central role of green public procurement in the early stage of a circular economy:
    • A life cycle perspective: The policy mix should address all stages of a building’s lifecycle well-balanced and without contradictions.
    • Broaden the scope: An understanding of the circular economy beyond the cycling of materials is necessary to fully exploit its potentials.
    • Push and pull: The instruments should support both – a market push and a market pull, to equip the EU market for a circular economy.
    • From voluntary to obligatory: Instruments such as green public procurement can be used to roll out obligatory requirements to all consumers.
    • Stay focused: Product-specific requirements are necessary to meet the special requirements for buildings (affordability, liveability and sustainability).