Commission publishes report on macro-objectives for resource efficient buildings

In early January, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission published a Working Paper entitled ‘Identifying macro-objectives for the life cycle environmental performance and resource efficiency of EU buildings’.  This Working Paper is linked to the Commissions Communication on Resource Efficiency opportunities in the Building Sector, adopted in 2014.  This communication identified the need for a common EU framework of indicators for the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings. 

To develop this approach a study is being undertaken during 2015 – 2017 by DG Environment and DG Growth, with the technical support of the JRC’s Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS).  This working paper brings together the findings of the first stage in this study, which focuses on the identification of 'macro-objectives' for the environmental performance of the EU building stock. This stage is intended to provide an initial 'top down' view of what the strategic priorities (the 'macro-objectives') should be for the building sector.

In order to identify the macro-objectives, the analysis focused on three broad areas of evidence, namely:
  • EU and Member State policies and initiatives of relevance to the building sector;
  • Technical evidence for 'hot spot' environmental impacts along the life cycle of buildings;
  • The priorities of existing assessment and reporting tools in the EU property market.
Further to this, the Working Paper proposes six macro-objectives at building level to be taken forward in order to identify related performance indicators.  These have been classed into two types as follows:

'Life cycle environmental performance' macro-objectives for buildings

1. Greenhouse gas emissions from building life cycle energy use: Minimise the total GHG emissions along a buildings lifecycle, with a focus on building operational energy use emissions and embodied emissions.
2. Resource efficient material life cycles: Optimise building design, engineering and form in order to support lean and circular flows, extend long-term material utility and reduce significant environmental impacts.
3. Efficient use of water resources: Make efficient use of water resources, particularly in areas of identified long-term or projected water stress.

Quality, performance and value' macro-objectives for buildings

4. Healthy and comfortable spaces: Design, construction and renovation of buildings that protect human health by minimising the potential for occupier and worker exposure to health risks
5. Resilience to climate change: The futureproofing of building thermal performance to projected changes in the urban microclimate, in order to protect occupier health and comfort.
6. Optimised life cycle cost and value: Optimisation of the life cycle cost and value of buildings, inclusive of acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal
 
In order to identify the macro-objectives, three broad areas of evidence have been the focus for analysis:
  • EU and Member State policies and initiatives of relevance to the building sector
  • Technical evidence for 'hot spot' environmental impacts along the life cycle of buildings
  • The priorities of existing assessment and reporting tools in the EU property market.
These objectives cover not only resource efficiency considerations, but also other significant environmental of functional performance aspects which have an influence on the lifecycle of a building.  They will now be used as part of the work on identifying a common framework of indicators in the next stage of this study.  

More information: Working Paper

Tags: resource efficiency, whole life cycle, buildings

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