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Building Sector Resource Efficiency

The interest in improving resource efficiency in the construction sector is growing at national and EU level but the lack of common objectives, indicators and data, and the lack of mutual recognition of different approaches are increasing the complexity of the working environment for all stakeholders. To address this information deficit the Commission has proposed a set of clearly defined and measurable indicators, for the assessment of the environmental performance of buildings.

Objectives of the consultation

The main objectives of this initiative are to promote a more efficient use of resources consumed by new and renovated commercial, residential and public buildings and to reduce their overall environmental impacts throughout the full life-cycle.

Resource use is determined in large part by design decisions and choices over construction materials. Due to the lack of reliable, comparable and affordable data, methods and tools on which the operators in the supply chain can analyse and benchmark the environmental performance of different solutions, the meaningful decisions regarding supply chain risk, market opportunities and internal investment priorities are difficult to make. To help bringing resource efficiency gains, designers, manufacturers, contractors, authorities and users need useable and reliable information to inform their decision-making.

While different national and commercial schemes may have reasons to diverge slightly in their approaches e.g. specific materials or climatic considerations, a common framework of core indicators, focusing on the most essential aspects of environmental impacts should nonetheless be established. This will allow comparability and provide consumers and policy makers with easier access to reliable and consistent information.

The Committee of the Regions (CoR) sought stakeholders’ views on the proposed framework development outlined in the Commission’s communication.

Supporting papers

To download the papers that supported this consultation, please follow the links below.

CIBSE response

CIBSE welcomes the attention to resource efficiency and agrees that this is an important and significant topic, in particular for the building services sector. CIBSE has recently published guidance for engineers on resource efficiency in building engineering systems, which provides advice on addressing the issue of resource efficiency in the sector.

CIBSE believes that further work is needed before any new requirements are introduced for the sector and in response to the committee working document CIBSE suggested that:

  • Very different analysis are required when considering manufactured systems incorporated in buildings than when considering the use and re-use of bulk materials. Building engineering systems rarely have the some life cycle as the structure and envelope, and will be replaced more frequently.
  • The distinction is needed between the renovation of services and internal furnishings of a building and the renovation of the structural frame and envelope. Renovation of services to replace older, inefficient systems with new efficient systems is widely encouraged to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
  • It is important to recognise that efficient building fabric, with appropriate levels of insulation, and efficient building engineering systems which are correctly installed and operated, can in some cases contribute to reducing energy demand and carbon emissions far more than the use of renewable energy.
  • There is a clear need for clarity of terminology in relation to resource efficiency, and indeed to energy efficient construction, as noted in the paper. There may be a role for the European Standardisation Bodies in this topic.

To read the full CIBSE response, please follow the link below.