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):
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: