Buildings consume a lot of material resources and energyand therefore play an important role in European environment and climate policy. Embedded showswhich represent the emissions resulting from the extraction of natural resources and their transformation into construction materials, represent almost a quarter of life cycle emissions of the current building stock in the EU.
The EEA Briefing’‘ analyzes the advantages of using circular economy principles in the renovation wave in Europe, which means keeping materials and products in use for as long as possible and effectively reusing or recycling all waste.
According to the EEA briefing, avoiding the use of new building materials holds great potential for mitigating climate change. The most effective circular renovation actions to save CO2 emissions and material use include prolong life existing buildings, for example by repairing and upgrading instead of demolishing, and using buildings more efficiently, for example by making spaces multifunctional. These actions would be reduce demand for new constructions, which require a lot more materials than renovations.
Moreover, ambitious circular renovation strategies, such as using recycled materials or materials designed for disassembly, could cumulatively reduce approximately 650 million tons of materials and save substantial amounts of CO2 from 2022 to 2050, if the strategies are implemented by the renovation of the EU building stock.
EU action on buildings
The European Commission is currently the development of an EU roadmap for reducing the carbon of buildings throughout their lifetime. Life cycle emissions are also addressed in the proposals to revise the Construction Products Regulation and the Directive on the energy performance of buildings.