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European Building Sector Policies “Not Enough” to Reach Zero Carbon by 2050

European Building Sector Policies “Not Enough” to Reach Zero Carbon by 2050
03 August 2020 | Updated 12 August 2020

A roadmap of policies to deliver essential carbon reductions in the residential building sector by 2050 has been published.

The report, released today by the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and prepared by independent research organisation CE Delft, the sector is not currently on a trajectory to zero-carbon by 2050.

It claims that current policies focusing on incentives and information are not enough for reaching this target.

The building sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Buildings consume 40 per cent of all energy in the EU and emit 36 per cent of the union's CO2. 

In its long-term strategy for 2050, the European Commission recognises the need for a near-complete decarbonisation of the building sector to meet its climate goals. However, according to the report, current policies will cut only a third of the emissions from buildings.


"More action is needed if we are to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest."

–Ciarán Cuffe

Member of the European Parliament


Zero Carbon Roadmap for Europe’s Buildings 


The report focusses on three areas where the emissions reduction potential is the greatest:


  • The energy performance of the existing building envelope
  • Energy carriers
  • Building materials


The report is released ahead of the upcoming “Renovation Wave”, an EU initiative to boost building renovation, as European states discuss national recovery plans in response to coronavirus.

It identifies building decarbonisation and renovation as opportunities for employment, healthier houses and lower energy bills for citizens in times when it is most needed.

Ciarán Cuffe, Member of the European Parliament commented: "Now, more than ever, citizens require and deserve a healthy and safe place to call home. Investing in energy efficiency and zero-carbon buildings can deliver quality homes with lower energy bills. More action is needed if we are to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest."

To advance building decarbonisation, the report calls for further and binding policies at the EU level in three areas:


  • Reducing energy demand through the renovation of the building stock
  • Shifting to zero-carbon fuels for heating
  • Reducing embedded carbon in construction and renovation materials


"This report underlines that a comprehensive policy package would stimulate investments in deep efficiency and zero-carbon innovation in the buildings sector," says Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE). 

"Smart policymaking should use the many intervention points of real estate transactions and should ensure that our buildings meet the needs of its users and support citizen-focused and livable cities. The European recovery initiative is a unique opportunity for better buildings," he continues. 

The full report can be accessed here.


Re-Prioritising Energy Management Post-COVID


Energy management initiatives are key in achieving long-term carbon reduction goals but, in the current economic climate, companies may struggle to find the capital investment required to implement them. 

Utility Team have created the Revolving Green Fund, which provides businesses with interest-free funding to deliver energy-efficient projects and technologies. 

You can read more about the funding here

Picture: An photograph showing an aerial view of a housing estate

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 03 August 2020


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