Building policies in Europe

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What are potential building policies in Europe (EU-30) during the period 2010-2050 such that

  • they maintain or improve the building infrastructure,
  • they help to achieve the climate change mitigation targets,
  • they are economically feasible?



Data come mainly from the Common Case Study. There are two main approaches within the study: the main approach looks at technical issues such as insulation and renovation of buildings or increase in biomass burning; the alternative approach looks also behavioural changes (such as room temperature decreases) and urban infrastructure (increasing urban density). The main approach is used in the assessments of the Common Case Study, but for completion, both are described here.





Main approach

At the moment, only a part of the Common Case Study is implemented in Opasnet. Therefore, this variable actually only affects heande:HI:Air exchange rate for European residences, and the building policies are included in the formula of that variable.

Alternative approach

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The current (as of January 2011) result in Opasnet Base is that of the alternative approach. The result of the main approach is only presented here in a tabular form.

Main approach

Building policies in Europe and their usage for different years in the Common Case Study.
Policy Year
2010 2020 2030 2050
BAU: business as usual contains the implementation of already made decisions but no further actions Assessed Assessed Assessed Assessed
ALL: all such policies are implemented that are required to reduce the total greenhouse gas emissions by 70 % by 2050 Not assessed Assessed Assessed Assessed
INSULATION: only building insulation policies from ALL are implemented (ALL also contains policies to increase biomass use, but these are not implemented here); Not assessed Not assessed Not assessed Assessed
RENOVATION: same as ALL except that ventilation is not improved in 50 % of those buildings that are insulated up to tighter standards (in other scenarios, insulation is always combined with improved ventilation). Not assessed Not assessed Not assessed Assessed

Alternative approach

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Combinations on building policies in Europe
European climate scenario
Policy European BAU European policy options
EPBD 2002 None of the policies below All of the policies below
EPBD 2008 (proposal for recast) None but this All but this
More renewables in heating / cooling None but this All but this
Behavioral changes None but this All but this
More efficient urban structures None but this All but this

For an explanation about the logic of the policy combinations, see Road transport policies in Europe#Result.

Description of policies on building policy options in Europe
Policy Reference (BAU) Policy option
EPBD 2008 (proposal for recast) No additional actions. Buildings represent approximately 40% of energy consumption and the potential energy saving is more than 20%. Increased insulation of buildings and other recast actions. More energy efficient buildings provide better living conditions and save money to all citizens. The estimated impact of the recast is energy savings of 60-80 Mtoe in 2020 or the total EU energy consumption will be reduced by 5-6%.
Increased use of renewable energy sources No additional actions. Increased percentages (?) of heating / cooling is done by 1) wood burning and 2) heat pumps 3) solar / wind.
Behavioral changes No additional actions. On-demand heating, cooling and ventilation (based on occupancy / activities). Additional possible policies: heating, cooling and ventilation demands reduced, wider (unconditioned) indoor temperature ranges tolerated (thermal comfort based optimum is 18-24 C); maintenance of the natural defence systems promoted (inc. rehydration, fitness, acclimatization and reduction of excess weight).
Sustainable urban planning / more efficient urban structures No additional actions. Increasing land-use densities; larger percentage (?) of population living in cities (currently some 80% in Europe).

Additional policies that may run parallel: Promoting higher density mixed-use development; Preventing urban sprawl; Increase in amount of waste recycled; Reduction in amount of contaminated land in the city; Reduced pesticide use in the city; Improved natural water quality; Increase in green purchasing; Improvements to existing green space (parks, woods); Increase in number of nature conservation areas in the city; Reduction in energy used by the city; Improved public safety; Sustainable transport; Less air pollution and noise; Increase in proportion of citizens satisfied with the environment in the city.

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Downstream variables


Building stock, decision making, energy, ventilation, neighbourhood.

See also