The European Sustainable Finance Platform has published the first draft of the requirements for environmental objectives on circular economy and biodiversity as part of the EU taxonomy. The Climate Positive Europe Alliance (CPEA) participated in the consultation and published a corresponding position paper . For the environmental objective “circular economy”, it is recommended that the economic activities “new construction” and “deconstruction” should not be considered separately. Furthermore, the terms “reuse” and “recycle” should be defined more clearly. The requirements of the environmental objectives “biodiversity” are not ambitious enough in the opinion of CPEA and its members.
End of April, CPEA Secretary General Ursula Hartenberger participated in a podium during the Berliner Energietage:
And who is going to pay for that? Strategies and instruments and new ways of financing buildings on the way to climate neutrality.
In the face of the climate crisis, the transformation of the building sector towards climate neutrality is necessary. Portfolio owners, project developers and investors are starting to plan the decarbonisation of their plants and projects. Targeted strategies for overall portfolios and manageable instruments such as the “building-specific climate protection roadmap” are essential for implementation. But how do you finance it? Taking into account new developments in the “Sustainable Finance” area, the most recent experiences of the first real applications of the proposed “EU Taxonomy Criteria” and the perspective of the private sector, possible strategies and instruments for recording and managing climate protection activities were presented, along with opportunities, requirements and Possibilities of climate protection-oriented financing discussed.
Organized by the German Sustainable Building Council DGNB.
Presented by Dr. Anna Braune, German Sustainable Building Council DGNB, Head of Research and Development.
Johannes Kreissig, German Sustainable Building Council DGNB, CEO.
Ursula Hartenberger, Climate Positive Europe Alliance – CPEA, Secretary General.
Alexander Piur, ING Bank, Head of Innovation and Sustainability Real Estate Finance & Infrastructure.
Monika Fontaine-Kretschmer, Nassauische Heimstätte / Wohnstadt, Managing Director.
Prof. Dr. Tobias Popović, University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart, Co-Head of the Center for Sustainable Business and Management (ZNWM).
Watch the recording of the event (in German):
CPEA EU Green Week Event Summary
The CPEA EU Green Week Partner workshop expert speakers provided participants with valuable insights into how the transition from linear to circular thinking and practice needs to be accelerated. The workshop identified three core elements to accelerate this transition.
- Changing aesthetic perceptions around materials
Large-scale public acceptance of and demand for recycled and reused construction materials are a key prerequisite for mainstreaming circularity in the built environment. Yet, promoting the use of second-hand materials is often still hampered by aesthetic prejudices in our part of the world which is why the concepts of “rebeauty and lovabilty” in relation to (re-)used building materials and components constitute core elements of successfully changing mindsets and embedding circularity principles in design and construction.
- Increasing durability and longevity through new product and design approaches
Increasing the durability and longevity of buildings and materials will greatly contribute to making the sector more circular. New product and design approaches – both regarding biological and technical cycles – are needed to improve adaptability and flexibility to make buildings (and their components ) stand the test of time in terms of resilience and changing user preferences and needs.
- Data, data, data
Progress on market transformation from linear towards circular construction and real estate is largely dependent on the availability of reliable whole-life cycle building data.
CPEA has been talking to two of the CPEA EU Green Week Partner panelists, Bernadette Soust Verdaguer from the University of Sevilla Spain and Pablo Van den Bosch, Founder of the Madaster platform in the Netherlands about practical data gathering and storage approaches that can help market participants to adopt more consistent – and better quality – data capture and management across sectoral activities.
CPEA: For a number of years the idea of digital Building Passports, often also being referred to as Digital Building Logbooks (DBLs) has gained traction amongst built environment stakeholders and policy-makers as an effective way to address the persisting sectoral data gaps. Bernadette, as member of the GBC España Circular Economy Working Group you are actively involved in the development of the Spanish Building Passport – what are the respective concrete plans and activities of the Spanish authorities?
Bernadette: At the moment, the Spanish authorities are focused on the renovation of existing buildings and how to increase the number of buildings refurbished with improved energy efficiency performance and reduced operational impacts. However, the Building Passport proposal of the GBC España Circular Economy work group goes beyond this. We think that the current plans are necessary, but that we also need to think about how we can include other aspects such as decarbonisation, covering operational and embodied impacts to integrate the circular economy within current sectoral practices.
CPEA: Pablo, you are the founder of Madaster, an online registry for building materials and products. On the organisational website, Madaster is described as the digital library of materials and there is also mention of a Madaster Passport. So, how does Madaster work?
Pablo: The Madaster platform is a unique, innovative, disruptive online cloud platform providing the user a ‘one stop access point’ to leverage their property data to meet and exceed their environmental, regulatory, health and financial driven ambitions across the full lifecycle of the object. In other words: property developers, owners, and/or operators can create a digital twin of their object in our platform and share, manage this data in the form of asset data, product data or material data. Madaster also automatically processes the files from BIM software and enriches them with data from other public and non-public sources.
CPEA: Bernadette, in practical terms, how can Building Passports help to embed circularity principles in construction and real estate?
Bernadette: We think that Building Passports offer great potential for embedding circularity by integrating information about the building that can be used to extend its life cycle, enable a more efficient use of materials, e.g. through the use of reclaimed or recovered materials, help to plan and organise maintenance and renovation cycles, and ultimately reduce the consumption of resources.
CPEA: Pablo, how does the Madaster Platform support circularity in construction and real estate?
Pablo: Madaster supports circularity by making transparent and visible what materials and products are used and will become available in the future. The more information available, the bigger the chance that reuse can be facilitated, and waste can be eliminated.
CPEA: Who would be typical Madaster users?
Pablo: Typical users would be owners of assets, such as buildings, infrastructure, or other construction types who use the platform for registration and documentation. But also a wide variety of stakeholders who are involved with those assets use the platform too. Examples of those stakeholders are designers and architects, engineers, construction builders, financing institutions (like banks), consultants and product manufacturers. Madaster also supports other platforms and software tools to connect their solutions to the Madaster platform.
CEPEA: Bernadette, how can the introduction of Building Passports support local government in relation to their circularity efforts?
Bernadette: Probably the most promising aspect of the use of Building Passports for local authorities is the harmonisation regarding the use of the information that can help the user to take better decisions aligned with circularity concepts by also integrating information about the materials used. Thus, if these type of tools are implemented in all new and existing buildings, the possibility of reusing, reclaiming, upcycling and recycling building materials would become easier to implement by local authorities. Building Passports also offer the opportunity for direct user engagement and raising user awareness around resource efficiency and circularity issues across the building life cycle.
CPEA: Pablo, how would the Madaster Passport relate to Building Passports?
Pablo: Madaster covers the logbook requirements with respect to static data. Censoring or user data, e.g. operational energy consumption, is not covered by Madaster and needs to be linked to other registrations, such as Building Passports.
CPEA: Have you seen a change in demand for the services Madaster is offering?
Pablo: Yes! We see a growing request to support the large variation of European guidelines to register assets, materials and product data. By supporting these variations in our platform, our European and or global clients do not have to adjust their registration per market which increases their efficiency.
CPEA: Bernadette, what are the next steps for the work of GBC España in relation to Building Passports?
Bernadette: The members of the GBC España Circular Economy Working Group are in the process of preparing a position paper putting forward ideas and relevant issues that we think the tool should address to ensure the inclusion of circularity principles. We are also considering its adaptation to the Spanish context. At the moment, the proposal is close to being circulated and published on the net. We hope that it can contribute to enriching the discussion and support the transition towards a more circular model in the building sector in Spain.
CPEA: Thank you both for sharing your insights!
Join us for the Climate Positive Europe Alliance, AISBL EU Green Week 2021 virtual Workshop:
Changing habits and mindsets – Moving from linear towards circular construction and real estate
Monday 31 May 2021 from 3.30 to 5.00 pm
This interactive workshop will explore what it takes to achieve zero pollution in the construction and real estate sector by mainstreaming and firmly embedding circularity principles in organisational strategies and daily professional practices. The event will facilitate cross-sectoral knowledge and expertise transfer by showcasing replicable real life examples from across Europe and will test the feasibility of wider market uptake through different stakeholder perspectives.
Core questions covered
How to practically achieve zero pollution by mainstreaming circularity?
What are the technical, market and legal/regulatory barriers to achieving zero pollution – and how to overcome them?
With inputs and insights from:
- Ursula Schneider, POS architekten
- Anne-Mette Manelius, Vandkunsten Architects
- Bernadette Soust-Verdaguer, University of Sevilla
- Pablo van den Bosch, Madaster
- Christine Lemaitre, DGNB
- Presented by Ursula Hartenberger, CPEA
To receive the dial-in details for the workshop, please send an email to: email@example.com
After two years of consultation, on Wednesday, 21 April 21 2021, the European Commission (EC) published the Delegated Act (DA) that spells out in detail the concrete technical screening criteria for achieving a “green investment” label in the EU. The purpose of this so-called Taxonomy is to redirect capital flows to enable sustainable growth. It is an important catalyst for financing the transformation of the European economy to being in alignment with European climate goals in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Real estate is crucial for the successful transition to a low-carbon economy. It represents 40% of global energy consumption and emits about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to stay on a global warming path below 2°C, building-related emissions need to decrease by nearly 80% from 2015 (Paris Agreement) levels by 2050. The Climate Positive Europe Alliance (CPEA) therefore strongly supports the integration of the building sector in the Taxonomy.
However, in contrast to all previous versions of the screening criteria, CPEA regrets that the ambition of the now published final Taxonomy criteria for activities related to construction and real estate have been significantly weakened. Most importantly,
- New Construction: requirements for the primary energy demand (PED) have been reduced by 50% – buildings need to demonstrate PED that is 10% lower than nationally defined NZEB standards (previous iterations required 20%).
- Acquisition and Ownership: buildings built before 2021 need to have an EPC class A; alternatively, they demonstrate to be in the top 15% of the national or regional building stock expressed as operational PED, with no further minimum requirements (previous requirements: top 15% but at least EPC class B).
In CPEA’s view, the requirement for New Construction does not reflect the ambition of the EC to enable market participants to join the transformation needed to future-proof the European economy. On the contrary, it invites the misallocation of funds to non-sustainable activities that in future need to be remedied. A PED that merely outperforms NZEB standards by 10% is too low a starting point. Moreover, with no roadmap for this requirement to increase over time, it will not lead to investments that are in line with national or European climate targets, much less with goals expressed in the Paris Agreement. Instead, it will further cement the perception of the construction and real estate sector as laggard in the fight against climate change.
In the activity of Acquisition and Ownership, the regular path (demonstration of EPC Class A) is ambitious, yet, currently, in most markets not applicable. On the other hand, the removal of a minimum benchmark (at least EPC B) within the alternative eligibility pathway of being in the top 15% of national/regional building stock opens the door for less ambitious assets being included in seemingly green funds/products. At the same time, this alternative pathway is lacking the definitions needed to allow for a true assessment (regional/national remains undefined).
Furthermore, CPEA criticises the lack of trust towards established sustainability certification schemes for construction and real estate that could reliably and independently verify the quality of construction, renovation and/or operation of buildings, including the DNSH requirements.
Finally, CPEA also sees the lack of a clear and reliable transition roadmap regarding higher ambition or changing metrics of and within the screening criteria as a missed opportunity for accelerating climate action and market transformation.
Given the importance of the sector in terms of climate impact, but also in economic terms, with millions of livelihoods depending on it, as well as the social and health implications of healthy and welcoming, affordable homes, CPEA feels that the Delegated Act criteria are short-sighted and disappointing. It does not reflect the existing initiatives and views of developers, investors or operators in the sector that are willing and able to move the market forward, who support CPEA and its founding members.
Impetus for more climate action in the built environment: Climate Positive Europe Alliance launched
A new European non-profit organisation is setting out to transform the construction and real estate sector towards greater sustainability. The Climate Positive Europe Alliance (CPEA) is a think tank that brings together expertise and market-based practical solutions for the most pressing sectoral challenges in the areas of sustainable finance, circular economy or the intelligent handling of building data and translates them into concrete recommendations for action. At the core of the Alliance’s activities are collaboration and the establishment of a cross-sector dialogue between business and policy-makers.
The EU Commission has set the goal: Europe should become the first climate-neutral continent. To get there, some efforts are still necessary – especially in the construction and real estate sector as one of the main causes of carbon emissions and resource scarcity. “The sector needs to set on a strategic course today in order to be able to achieve our common goals,” says Dr Christine Lemaitre, CEO of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). “This can only be done in European solidarity and in purposeful cooperation between the construction and real estate industries, the financial sector and policy-makers.”
This is precisely where CPEA comes in. The newly founded organisation based in Brussels is backed by the DGNB, the Green Building Council España (GBCe), the Austrian Sustainable Building Council (ÖGNI) and the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (REHVA). Other partners are to follow. “Together we want to significantly accelerate the transformation of the European construction and real estate markets towards sustainability,” says Lemaitre, the Alliance’s new Chair.
CPEA works with a bottom-up approach, focusing on collaboration between key decision-makers in the market. All planned activities and projects are based on a common European understanding of the key requirements of sustainable construction, which is reflected in the DGNB certification methodology. Thus, the Alliance follows a fact-based, data-driven approach based on holistic life cycle considerations.
Four thematic focal points
The new European Alliance will focus its activities on four main topics:
- Sustainable Finance
- Buildings and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Circular Economy
- Building data and information
In the area of sustainable finance, CPEA will continue to support the work of the EU Commission and the Sustainable Finance Platform in further developing the EU Taxonomy criteria. The basis for this is the market study on the applicability of the EU Taxonomy recently conducted and published by various CPEA partners. In addition, a separate “European ESG Working Group” will explore the establishment of a harmonised uniform European ESG standard.
Together with representatives of EU institutions, CPEA wants to work towards putting the SDGs and circularity principles at the centre of existing and future building policy development and actively engage in the development and roll-out of a standardised, central building data repository which will store all relevant building information over the entire life cycle, forming the basis for more informed and more transparent decision-making.
Away from individual interests, towards joint European action
What all topics have in common is that they have an enormous influence on whether the path towards climate neutrality in the building sector can succeed. “All of these topics require close, constructive and goal-oriented cooperation between the market, legislators and the finance and investment community,” says Peter Engert, Managing Director at CPEA co-founder ÖGNI.
“The construction and real estate industry is complex, with many different players and just as many motivations. Understanding these interrelationships and defining ambitious targets based on robust data, ensuring that subsidies are linked to real consumption is essential on the way to a climate-positive Europe,” says Ursula Hartenberger, Secretary General of CPEA.
Ways to participate and collaborate
CPEA invites other European organisations and associations to become actively involved in its work and to collaborate on the various topics. The most important prerequisite is that they pursue the same goals and want to join the Alliance in creating positive momentum based on a common understanding of sustainability.
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Climate Positive Europe Alliance – CPEA
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Bringing together representatives from industry, NGOs, the European Commission and the United Nations, the official launch event of the Climate Positive Alliance Europe AISBL set out the new Brussels based think tank’s mission, objectives and strategic activities.
An expert panel discussion explored core thematic focus areas, including the EU Taxonomy, the need for a pan-European coordination on ESG and practical solutions for capturing, managing and verifying building data.
Watch the recording of the Launch event: