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Sustainability and a Circular Construction Industry

The World Economic Forum Risk Report of 2021 outlines (a) climate action failure, (b) human environmental damage, (c) a natural resources crisis and (d) the increase in extreme weather events as the most likely long-term risks for societies around the globe [1]. Additionally, the latest assessment report from the IPCC highlights the importance of ramping up our collective efforts for rapid and sustained reduction in greenhouse gases [2].

The construction sector consumes 50% of all extracted materials, produces 35% of all waste and emits up to 12% of total national greenhouse gas emissions [3] within the EU. Consequently, construction is considered a key value chain in the EU’s ambitious plan to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050 [4]. Whereas climate-neutrality poses several challenges for the built environment, it presents an abundance of opportunities such as the development of new infrastructure and the renovation of up to 35 million buildings until 2030 [5].

As a result of the EU’s Green Deal [4], a new landscape is emerging that will fundamentally change the construction ecosystem. The EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance incentivizes investors and developers to aim for environmentally sustainable projects [6]. Similarly, authorities and public investors are increasingly under pressure to follow green public procurement schemes [7], [8]. Additionally, a revision of the Construction Product Regulation [9] including the possible introduction of recycled content requirements [10] mandates the development of material recovery routes and processes. Finally, the Level(s) framework [11] paves the way for the assessment and reporting on the sustainability performance of buildings and thus requires contractors and operators to plan, build, maintain and operate buildings and infrastructures with respect to various social and environmental aspects.

Next to measuring carbon, material, water, health and comfort and climate change impact of buildings [11], the development of material recovery routes and processes are key in making the construction industry more resource-efficient and climate-neutral in the long term [3]. Since circularity is considered vital by authorities [3], [12], practitioners [13]–[15] and scholars [16], [17] alike for the transition towards a carbon-neutral construction sector, ENCORD has dedicated the year 2021 to the development of a Circular Construction Framework. Developing circular business models and solutions that are compliant with new regulations will require a cooperative approach from partners throughout the ecosystem. In order to tackle the complex task ahead, the sustainability WG is engaging specialist from the four other working groups in the process and will present the result in a report at the beginning of 2022. Moreover, a revision of the CO2 Measurement Protocol, developed by ENCORD 10 years ago, is on the future agenda of the sustainability WG.


[1] M. McLennan and S. Group, ‘The Global Risks Report 2021 16th Edition’, p. 97.

[2] V. Masson-Delmotte et al., Eds., Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

[3] ‘EUR-Lex - 52020DC0098 - EN - EUR-Lex’. (accessed Aug. 16, 2021).

[4] ‘What is the European Green Deal?’, European Commission - European Commission. (accessed Aug. 13, 2021).

[5]‘EUR-Lex - 52020DC0662 - EN - EUR-Lex’. (accessed Aug. 16, 2021).

[6] Regulation (EU) 2020/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2020 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment, and amending Regulation (EU) 2019/2088 (Text with EEA relevance), vol. 198. 2020. Accessed: Apr. 19, 2021. [Online]. Available:

[7] ‘Green Public Procurement - Environment - European Commission’. (accessed Aug. 16, 2021).

[8] K. Pouikli, ‘Towards mandatory Green Public Procurement (GPP) requirements under the EU Green Deal: reconsidering the role of public procurement as an environmental policy tool’,ERA Forum, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 699–721, Jan. 2021, doi: 10.1007/s12027-020-00635-5.

[9] Construction Products Regulation (CPR)’, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs - European Commission, Jul. 05, 2016. (accessed Aug. 17, 2021).

[10] ‘EUR-Lex - 52021DC0252 - EN - EUR-Lex’. (accessed Aug. 17, 2021).

[11] ‘Level(s)’. (accessed Apr. 19, 2021).

[12] ‘Circular Economy - Principles for Building Design’. Accessed: Aug. 17, 2021. [Online]. Available:

[13] ‘Loi Économie circulaire : Le bâtiment en première ligne : FFB’. (accessed Aug. 17, 2021).

[14] ‘Positionspapier der Deutschen Bauindustrie zur Schaffung eines einheitlichen, konsistenten Regelwerkes für mineralische Bauabfälle und Bodenaushub: BAUABFALLVERWERTUNGSGESETZ’, p. 4.

[15] ‘ABFALLRECHTLICHE HINWEISE Fragen und Antworten zur Vergabe und Vergütung von Entsorgungsleistungen im Straßen- und Tiefbau’, Aug. 2021. [Online]. Available:

[16] Z. Bao and W. Lu, ‘Developing efficient circularity for construction and demolition waste management in fast emerging economies: Lessons learned from Shenzhen, China’, Sci. Total Environ., vol. 724, p. 138264, Jul. 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138264.

[17] K. T. Adams, M. Osmani, T. Thorpe, and J. Thornback, ‘Circular economy in construction: current awareness, challenges and enablers’,Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. - Waste Resour. Manag., vol. 170, no. 1, pp. 15–24, Feb. 2017, doi: 10.1680/jwarm.16.00011.

Below are brief summaries of the meetings of the group:

Resource & Impact Decoupling in the Construction Sector

Last modified on 2021-05-12 10:00:13 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

The demand for construction and related services is expected to keep rising due to population growth globally, due to demographics in Europe, as well as maintenance and modernisation of stock. Thus, the need for building materials, which correlates with embedded carbon, if further exploited with fossil fuels.  

Our investigations find that even if decarbonising the production of the 10 commonly used new construction materials across EU28 countries in line with published industry roadmaps, the industry will fall short of the target set by the European Commission of a 55% reduction in GHG emissions by almost 20% in 2030. 

Hence, AEC faces the challenge to provide solutions for buildings and infrastructure, for an increasing demand, but using less materials, in particular virgin natural materials. To achieve this, built assets have to be designed for circularity to allow for the recovery of building material at the end of the life of building stock. Therefore, our business models need to be adapted accordingly based on the Life Cycle Approach with value propositions of Construction-as-a-Service

Imagine a deconstruction industry as big as the construction industry today. As waste is a result of bad information management and/or design flaws, for net zero and resource efficiency to be achieved we need a comprehensive connectedness and a suitable, i.e. accessible, data structure. Fostering awareness and digital literacyindustrializing our processes increases our sector’s productivity, as well as its sustainability performance – and opens up big opportunities for the AEC sector. 

Replacing virgin with circular construction materials is vital for resource decoupling and the provision of sustainable growing building assets within the EU28 and thus a pivotal frontier for R&D. At the same time, we have to find innovative ways to mitigate the environmental impact of the construction and real estate industry

By Norbert Pralle and Dominik Mann (ENCORD) in reference to

Circular Construction Industry

Last modified on 2021-04-27 11:49:04 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Eight major challenges

In our last council meeting we asked our members to submit their top three challenges regarding a transition to a circular construction industry. Eight development frontiers emerged that require collaborative development and effort in order to meet the ambitious goals and targets of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, Renovation Wave and Taxonomy on Sustainable Finance. The ENCORD board and Sustainability Working Group are currently liaising with external partners and all other ENCORD Working Groups to address as many frontiers as possible to deliver a circularity framework for the construction industry.

The European Commission calls for a climate neutral Europe by 2050

Last modified on 2018-12-27 09:43:29 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

On 28 November 2018, the European Commission published in a communication its strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy by 2050 – A Clean Planet for All. A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy.

The strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance, or research. It will build on the new energy policy framework established under the Clean Energy for All Europeans package.

The purpose of this long-term strategy is not to set targets, but to create a vision and sense of direction, plan for it, and inspire as well as enable stakeholders, researchers, entrepreneurs and citizens alike to develop new and innovative industries, businesses and associated jobs.

The road to a climate neutral economy would require joint action in seven strategic areas:

  • energy efficiency
  • deployment of renewables
  • clean, safe and connected mobility
  • competitive industry and circular economy
  • infrastructure and interconnections
  • bio-economy and natural carbon sinks
  • carbon capture and storage to address remaining emissions.

Benefits from zero emission buildings, in both residential and services sectors are clearly addressed in the strategy. To this end, the communication stresses the need to achieve and sustain higher renovation rates of the existing building stock, with tools such as energy efficiency digitalisation, home automation and smart appliances, improved construction materials. The document also highlights that an integrated approach and consistency across all relevant policies will be necessary for the modernisation of the built environment and mobilisation of all actors. Consumer engagement, including through consumer associations, will be a key element in this process.

The communication can be downloaded here.

Source: European Commission © European Union, 1995-2018

EU Sustainable Energy Awards – call for entries open!

Last modified on 2018-01-24 11:24:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Organised by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Energy and EASME), EUSEW takes place every year in June. The 2018 focus is on energy transition and will cover a series of activities with an EU-wide scope. In addition to the EU Sustainable Energy Awards, event activities will feature a policy conference (5–7 June 2018), networking opportunities and local sustainable energy events, all dedicated to building a secure energy future for Europe.

To have a chance of winning, nominated activities, projects and actions must be ongoing, or not concluded before 30 June 2018, and carried out within the EU28. These conditions also hold for the organisation running the activities, projects and actions.

Projects should be outstanding, innovative with original features, and they should have a measurable impact in that they help reduce energy use or work with renewable energy in a way that will contribute to the EU’s climate and energy goals.

You can find further information about the awards, as well as eligibility, assessment rules and the application process, on the EUSEW2018 website. The deadline for applications is 23 February 2018.

Call for Abstracts for IEECB&SC’18 is open until 5 February

Last modified on 2018-01-24 11:23:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

The 10th international Conference on Improving Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings  and Smart Communities (IEECB&SC’18) will be held from 21 to 22 March 2018 during the Light+Building trade fair.

The conference is addressed to energy policy makers at international, national, and local level, academic, researchers and energy efficiency experts, ESCOs, utilities, buildings energy and environmental managers, buildings engineers and architects, equipment manufacturers and commercial property investors, with the aim to promote and diffuse the concept of energy efficiency in new and existing commercial buildings and enlarge the market for low consumption and sustainable non- residential buildings.

The conference covers also the  topic of smart and sustainable districts, communities and cities, as energy systems efficiency and renewable energies are  often optimized at district or city level.

The topics for the Call for Abstracts include:
• (non-residential) Building policies and programmes, including design, implementation and evaluation;
• (non-residential) Building design, retrofits and simulation programmes;
• Specific technologies (HVAC, lighting, advanced material for insulation and storage, RES integration, poly-generation, building control systems);
• Audits and commissioning, energy management, ESCOs and financing ;
• Control systems, Smart buildings and demand response;
• Behaviour  (occupants and property owners)  and investment decisions;
• Smart and sustainable districts, communities and cities.

The conference aims at attracting international experts, policy makers and companies to allow exchanges of experiences and best practices among different countries and continents.

Accepted abstracts will be presented at the conference (oral presentation). There are no registration fees for accepted abstract presenters, including co-authors.

More information in the Call for Abstracts here (deadline for submission is 5 February 2018 – abstracts shall be sent to