EU Climate Goals Threatened by Construction Rules, Group Says

European efforts to prevent global warming by constructing more efficient buildings are faltering, according to an independent think tank that specializes in climate-neutral construction.

There’s a “misalignment with EU climate targets” because countries are interpreting new energy-efficiency requirements very differently, according to the Building Performance Institute of Europe. The Brussels-based organization said the standards also allow “considerable” fossil fuel use, because they haven’t been updated to reflect a drop in the cost of renewable energy.

Buildings -- constructing and running them -- are big CO2 contributors. The United Nations Environment Programme urged governments in December to improve standards, after greenhouse gas emissions from building operations hit their highest in 2019, the most recent measurement.

Since January, new buildings in Europe must adhere to so-called nearly zero-energy standards, so that what little energy they use comes mostly from renewable sources. The requirements are part of European measures adopted to address climate change already a decade ago.

The institute said the standards need to be strengthened and applied uniformly if Europe is to meet its climate goals for 2030 and 2050. Legislation setting out building requirements is being reviewed this year, providing an opportunity to revisit the standards, the organization said.

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