Sustainable and competitive Construction sector EU Report published

31/03/2014 5230


Sustainable and competitive construction sector report published

This document presents the integrated approach of European policies for the construction sector regarding sustainability, in terms of energy and resource efficiency, health and safety issues for buildings, construction works and products. The brochure gives information on the available support schemes and financial instruments and highlights the benefits of international cooperation.


The European construction sector: A global partner

The construction sector is of strategic importance for many countries across the world. It delivers the buildings and infrastructure needed by the rest of the economy and society.

It generates 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the European Union and provides 20 million jobs. It has a direct impact on the safety of persons and on the quality of life.

The energy performance and resource efficiency of buildings, infrastructure and construction products have an important impact on energy savings, the fight against climate change and the environment in general. This has triggered important innovations and built expertise in Europe for the design of sustainable buildings and construction products, including renovation.

As such, the construction sector plays an important role in the delivery of the European Union’s ‘Europe 2020’*1 goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector*2 focuses on five objectives: stimulating favourable investment conditions; improving the human-capital basis; improving resource efficiency, environmental performance and business opportunities; strengthening the EU internal market and fostering the global competitiveness of enterprises.

The European Union’s internal market offers our international partners access to more than 500 million people and approximately EUR 13 trillion in GDP.

The European Union has put in place a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework, including corresponding European standards, financial tools, information platforms, labelling schemes and other instruments, which are presented further on.

The European Union is a major actor in world trade and supports open markets, clear regulatory frameworks and the removal of barriers to trade.

The EU is engaged internationally to open opportunities for sustainable construction, cooperate with its partners in areas of mutual interest and share its expertise.


*1 europe2020/index_ en.htm

*2 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, ‘Strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and its enterprises’ (COM(2012) 433). 

The EU policies for buildings aim at an integrated approach, covering sustainability, in terms of energy and resource efficiency, health and safety issues. There is a large market to cover, including newly built buildings and renovating the existing building stock.

The EU Member States retain the competency to regulate issues such as safety, indoor air quality, noise and radiation. They also have the responsibility to implement European legislation.

Local authorities have an important role to play in the promotion of low-carbon and resource-efficient cities, building on the involvement of stakeholders and citizens.


Sustainable construction

Sustainable buildings combine improved energy performance and reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle. Their users enjoy better health and well-being and productivity gains that translate into cost savings.

Buildings have the potential to reach a 90 % reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


Energy efficiency – towards nearly zero-energy buildings 

The EU is aiming for a 20 % cut in its annual primary energy consumption by 2020.

The building sector, together with public transportation, has the greatest potential for savings.

The energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) *3 promotes the improvement of the energy performance of buildings, taking into account outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as indoor climate require- ments and cost-effectiveness. It applies to new buildings and old ones undergoing reno- vation, and lays down minimum requirements for energy performance and requirements for related framework methodologies and strengthens the role of energy performance certificates and inspections.


*3 Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings. energy/efficiency/ buildings/buildings_ en.htm 


According to the EPBD, all new buildings shall be nearly zero-energy buildings by 31 December 2020, and 2 years earlier for buildings occupied and owned by public authorities. ‘Nearly zero-energy building’ means a building that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy produced on site or nearby.

Public authorities should set the example by renovating each year 3 % of central government buildings with insufficient energy performances, as required by the energy efficiency directive (EED) *4.

This requirement is complemented by the EED obligation for Member States to put in place longer-term renovation strategies.

The implementation of the EPBD is supported by a set of European standards *5, dealing with the thermal performance
of buildings and building components, ventilation, light and lighting, heating systems, building automation, controls and building management.

In line with the EPBD, the EU Member States have established systems of certification of the energy performance of buildings. The certificate includes the energy rating and recommendations for the cost-optimal or cost-effective improvement of the energy performance.

The EPBD has already had a positive impact on transaction prices and rents: higher energy-efficiency ratings result in substantially higher sales or rental values of buildings. 


*4 Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency.

*5 cen/Sectors/Sectors/ Construction/EPB/ Pages/default.aspx


European support initiatives

The European Portal for Energy Efficiency of Buildings *6 is an initiative of the European Commission that allows the finding and sharing of best practices and know-how on energy solutions for better buildings.

The Energy-Efficient Building European Initiative*7 is an industry-driven research and demonstration programme with the vision that all European buildings will be designed, built or renovated to high energy efficiency standards by 2050.





READ the REPORT: European construction sector - a global partner.pdf


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