WorldGBC launches EU policy briefing on Whole Life Carbon

The World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) Europe Regional Network (ERN) has released a policy briefing with guidance on Whole Life Carbon.

Buildings account for around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions in Europe, which includes both the operational carbon of buildings from when they are in use, as well as the carbon impact of the manufacturing, transportation, construction, and end-of-life phases of built assets, often called embodied carbon.

Meeting the EU Green Deal’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 will require policymakers to introduce measures that address the Whole Life Carbon (WLC) impact, both operational and embodied carbon, of buildings.

WorldGBC’s policy briefing gives recommendations on how the European Commission and EU member states should implement three key aspects of WLC policy when it is formally introduced into key legislation such as the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

The three main sections of the paper cover recommendations on how to harmonise and standardise WLC reporting, plus how to define the physical scope of a building for WLC assessments, and how to construct WLC targets (known as the ‘architecture’ of WLC targets).

The paper’s recommendations are summarised below:

Harmonisation and Standardisation: WLC reporting should encompass EN 15978 modules A1-A5, B1, B4, B5, B6, C1-C4 and D (with D reported separately).

Physical Scope of WLC reporting: WLC reporting should use the table of building elements on pages 25-6 of Level(s) User Manual 2 as the basis for defining the physical scope of a building.

The Architecture of WLC targets: Member States should establish overarching WLC targets for buildings, as well as separate operational and embodied carbon targets.

The timely publication comes after the European Parliament approved an ambitious revision of the EPBD. The revision in its current form would introduce WLC reporting for all new buildings from 2027 and mandate the creation of national WLC limits from 2030, and even more relevantly, the European Commission would need to set out a harmonised EU WLC reporting framework by the end of 2025.

WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network looks forward to working closely with colleagues in the European Commission and national governments on implementing the recommendations in this paper in the ongoing revision of the EPBD and other key legislation.

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