Green Building/Remodeling

Published on May 27th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


EU Mandates Nearly Carbon Neutral Buildings After 2020

This week the European Parliament announced new energy standards that will require all new buildings constructed in Europe after 2020 will need to be nearly carbon-neutral. The announcement is part of the EU’s plans to cut carbon emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. The new guidelines will take effect for all new public buildings constructed in the European Union after 2018 and apply to all residential and office buildings after 2020.

Photo Credit: joaaso The new fire & police station in Berlin. After 2018, it would need to be nearly carbon-neutral.

The new fire & police station in Berlin. After 2018, it would need to be nearly carbon-neutral.

“Investing in building renovation is a win-win scenario, creating jobs in Europe’s largest employing sector, reducing energy bills and improving our energy security.” — Claude Turmes, European Parliament and Luxembourg Green Party member

The EU already has one of the more aggressive carbon emissions cut goals, and the Parliament is considering making them even more aggressive as the recession created an 11% cut over the past year. Early versions of the plan had required that all new buildings over 1,000 square meters be close to carbon-neutral after 2018, but final revisions pushed the timing for residential and office buildings back by two years and now apply the requirement to buildings of all sizes.

“This will heavily improve the impact of the directive and offer great potential for small and medium-sized enterprises, since refurbishment requirements will now cover almost all homes.” — European Builders Confederation.

This significant requirement will dramatically change the way all new buildings are constructed in the EU as well as energy production and delivery.

“With buildings accounting for 36 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gases, improving their energy efficiency is also crucial for meeting the EU’s climate change goals.” – Claude Turmes

While there are no specifics on how the label of nearly carbon neutral will be defined, the European Commission will be defining the specifics in the coming months. What they decide, both for new building and for energy efficiency, may well set the tone for how other countries approach the future of new construction. With the construction sector in Europe making up 10% of the EU GDP, the rules could also spark a new regional revolution in the green building sector.

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