The Zero Carbon and Circular Economy Challenge in the Built Environment – Policy options for the European Union and its Member States
Getting on track to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C, as was agreed in Paris back in 2015, would not just be good for our climate, but first and foremost for all citizens. What changes to the European policy framework and new initiatives could be prepared and implemented in the coming years?
This paper on the zero carbon and circular challenge in the built environment puts forward several policy recommendations. In order to achieve the net-zero carbon goal by 2050, adapting the built environment is paramount: the EU estimates that the climate change-related damage to infrastructure could grow tenfold under a business-as-usual scenario. The paper advocates the need to come up with a comprehensive strategy for the building and construction sector which should build on the principles of sustainability and circularity. It also highlights the societal benefit generated by energy renovation and building upgrades.
The paper touches upon several key aspects of the circularity challenge, namely, building design, the construction material challenge, urban biodiversity and buildings in the energy system.
Changing how we construct, heat and cool our buildings will trigger positive change in many neighbouring sectors, including energy and heavy industry, but also in sectors which at first sight may seem less connected, such as health and education.
The paper builds on a workshop organised by BPIE earlier this year and which gathered organizations in the energy field: Climate KIC, DG Connect, DG Environment, Eurima, EuroACE, Institute for European Studies, IUCN, RAP, ROCKWOOL Group, United Technologies Corporation, Wageningen Environmental Research, and the BPIE Board of Directors.