• Client: DG Environment - European Commission
  • Implementation period: 2012 - 2014 (Completed)
  • Geographic coverage: European Union

Assessing the impacts of an EU voluntary and mandatory framework for the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings

The study (led by Copenhagen Resource Institute) supported the Commission in its Impact Assessment of the Communication on Resource efficiency opportunities in the building sector.

The study provided empirical evidence and analysed resource use and consequent environmental impacts from buildings and assessed the significance of the policy problems related to resource use for sustainable buildings. Existing European policies related to resource efficiency in buildings were also reviewed. The most important part of the study related to assessing the impacts of two policy options against the baseline scenario. Analysing the responses of the public consultation on Sustainable Buildings launched by the Commission provided important insights into the analysis.

The analysis of policy options compared the impacts of introducing an EU voluntary and mandatory certification framework consisting of core indicators to be used for the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings.

The results can be summarised as follows:

  • Under the baseline scenario of no policy change it was estimated that the share of environmental certified commercial as well as residential buildings in Europe would slightly increase by 2020 and 2030, although the situation is not expected to improve much for the residential sector.
  • The EU voluntary framework would have benefits for manufacturers of construction products, architects, builders, developers, investors and property owners (in terms of a more harmonised system and generation of comparable data to be used in decision making, decreased operating costs, increased asset value) and individual owners/ tenants (better quality of buildings). It would allow policy makers to base decisions on better information. Costs related to certification and “greening” the buildings are expected to go down per building as more buildings are foreseen to be assessed and certified. SMEs will be positively impacted as more guidance will be provided to stakeholders compared to the baseline. It is also expected that more jobs would be created.
  • The use of an EU mandatory framework with a set of core indicators would increase the demand for sustainable buildings and provide a system to collect comparable data across the EU and an incentive for better environmental performance. Companies active in the building sector would benefit from an expanded market and substantially improved market information. It is not expected that certification costs would significantly increase if additional “sustainable” core indicators would be introduced into the existing system. The mandatory scheme would be an incentive for market players to innovate and thereby obtain a share of the market. Similarly to the voluntary option, the environmental impact is difficult to determine but would most likely exceed the improvements resulting from a voluntary approach.

 

The study was started by Trinomics staff while working at Ecorys and completed at Trinomics.