A life-cycle perspective on the building sector- Good practice in Europe

This report provides concrete examples of how Member States have improved circularity and reduce emissions in several phases of a building’s life cycle, as well as good practice examples from the construction industry.

There is a growing awareness that embodied emissions and the circular economy will play a key role in decarbonising Europe’s building stock in the coming decades. Current EU policies such as the EPBD and EED focus mainly on reducing the operational emissions of a building, but the Renovation Wave and Circular Economy Action Plan are among key initiatives of the European Commission to align legislation to achieve the 2050 climate targets for the building sector.

Life-Cycle Assessments (LCA) are the key methodology to evaluate environmental impacts over different life-cycle phases of a product or building. Integration of life cycle thinking into the EU legislative framework is therefore essential to decarbonise the built environment.

Several Member States already went ahead and implemented legislation to regulate embodied carbon and stimulate circularity in the construction sector. The report illustrates how policy instruments like minimum carbon performance standards and public procurement are key drivers of emission free construction sites as well as changes in construction material use, and help focus on circular material flows during demolition and deconstruction. These policy changes coincide with new ways of implementing projects in practice. Circular and environmental solutions developed by the industry, ranging from circular materials to building design and construction sites to deconstruction, illustrate that circularity principles and low carbon construction are not from a distant future, but already being implemented today.

About the report:

The good practice report on public and private approaches to reduce carbon emission along the building’s entire lifecycle and introduce circularity in the building sector. Examples show how Member States have designed laws and policy instruments to improve circularity and reduce emissions in several phases of a buildings life cycle. Finally, good practice example from the construction industry are illustrating how circularity and life-cycle thinking is already being implemented in practice.

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