Sustainable construction / Energy efficient buildings :

Energy efficient buildings

In brief

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission launched its “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package.  The package, contains important items relating to buildings, including proposed revisions of the Directives on Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD), Energy Efficiency (EED) and Renewable Energy, and a new “Smart Finance for Smart Buildings” initiative.

Our view

Using concrete in buildings contributes to energy efficiency thanks to concrete’s high thermal mass. When it is warm, concrete elements absorb excess heat, slowing the rise in temperature in indoor rooms. When temperatures fall in the evening, the concrete releases this heat, keeping indoor rooms at a comfortable temperature. This leads to energy savings and produces a better indoor climate for building occupants. In modern buildings, “thermally activated” building systems, where hot or cold water or air flows through pipes embedded in the concrete, can further boost the effect.  Thanks to its energy-storage effect, thermal mass can also contribute to greater uptake of renewable energy in buildings. Furthermore, thanks to their air-tightness and durability, the energy consumption of concrete buildings is greatly reduced over their whole life.

Given this, CEMBUREAU fully supports the recognition, under the proposed revision of the EPBD, of the contribution of structural building materials with a high thermal mass as in the stipulation in the proposed revision of the EPBD that thermal capacity should be considered when calculating the energy performance of a building. Furthermore, the proposal to assess buildings’ readiness to store energy and respond to the needs of the electricity grid, as part of a proposed “smartness indicator”, is welcomed. As indicated in a recently published study by 3E, commissioned by the Concrete Initiative, thermal mass in heavyweight buildings can provide this flexibility by allowing for consumer energy demand to be shifted in time (“active demand response”) by using structural thermal energy storage.  This could result in up to a 25% CO2 reduction per dwelling, up to 50% reduction in the need for peak electricity supply capacity and savings of up to €300 per household per year.

From a social point of view, CEMBUREAU is pleased to note the importance attributed to indoor environments, and thus the health and wellbeing of occupants, as this must go hand in hand with environmental objectives.  It is also necessary to consider the benefits of making buildings more energy efficient to consumers, in particular those at risk of energy poverty. From a financial perspective, it is clear that the push towards more energy efficient buildings will require adequate financing.  As such, we welcome the Smart Finance for Smart Buildings initiative and its focus on improving access to public and private funds for energy efficiency investments.

Acheiving EU energy goals with buildings
The Concrete Initiative
Go
Structural Thermal Energy Storage
3E
Energy efficient & low CO2 buildings with concrete
The Concrete Initiative

Sustainable construction / Sustainability assessment :

Sustainability assessment

In brief

In 2014, the European Commission adopted a Communication on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector. The Communication focuses on two main areas: working towards a common European approach to assess the environmental performance of buildings; and tackling construction & demolition waste. Further to this, a Working Paper was adopted in which the following 6 six macro-objectives at building level were proposed in order to identify related performance indicators

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from building life cycle energy use
  • Resource efficient material life cycles
  • Efficient use of water resources
  • Healthy and comfortable spaces
  • Resilience to climate change
  • Optimised life cycle cost and value

Following on from this, in 2016 a consultation was launched in order to obtain feedback from stakeholders on the first draft indicator proposals.

Our view

One important aspect for the cement and concrete industry is the fact that, in order for a building to be truly sustainable, a balance between social, economic and environmental measures needs to maintained over the whole life of the building. For this reason, assessment over a broad suite of indicators, at the building level, is the most appropriate approach, and thus is the one taken by CEN/TC 350.  With regards to the indicators themselves, in its response to the 2016 consultation, CEMBUREAU highlighted a series of points, which included the fact that both Whole Life Cycle Assessment and Whole Life Cycle costing methodologies are the most reliable and accurate ways of assessing the sustainability of a building.  Also highlighted was the need to take into consideration durability aspects and the life span of a building.

Cement, Concrete & the circular economy
CEMBUREAU
Construction & demolition waste do's & dont's
The Concrete Initiative
Most suitable type of concrete reuse?
ECRA

Sustainable construction / Construction & demolition waste :

Construction & demolition waste

In brief

According to the Commission, about 450-500 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&DW) is generated every year in Europe, at least a third of which is concrete. Nevertheless, only around a third to two thirds of the C&DW generated is recycled.  This low recycling rate is not due to technical difficulties - it’s market realities. Against this backdrop the European Commission has embarked on several initiatives to analyse and improve construction and demolition waste (C&DW) recycling rates across Europe. It published its Protocol on C&DW Management in November 2016 and is working on pre-demolition audit guidance.

Our view

Concrete can be 100% recycled after demolition. Recycling concrete from C&DW offers two main benefits: it reduces our dependence on primary raw materials and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill. There are two main ways in which recycled concrete is reused:

  • As a recycled aggregate in new concrete
  • As a recycled aggregate in unbound applications such as road construction and earthworks.

The choice of application should be based on the optimum balance of sustainability, local availability and long-term technical performance.  A third route for recycling concrete under development is the use of the fine particles from crushed concrete as a secondary raw material in clinker production. In our view two of the key issues which need to be tackled are: the lack of efficient sorting and collecting of C&DW, combined with an insufficient demand for, and confidence in, recycled materials. These aspects are two sides of the same coin. Often, the infrastructure is not in place to allow for quality recycled materials to reach a potential client in a cost-efficient manner.

Most suitable type of concrete reuse?
ECRA
Construction & demolition waste do's & dont's
The Concrete Initiative
Cement, Concrete & the Circular Economy
CEMBUREAU

Sustainable construction / Sustainability standards :

Sustainability standards

In brief

CEN/TC 350 “Sustainability of construction works” is the CEN body that drafts standards on sustainability assessment of construction works. The set of standards includes methods for evaluating across the three pillars of sustainability, from the building or construction works level down to the level of construction products. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), developed according to standard EN 15804, provide the relevant environmental information for assessment at building level.  In this respect, CEN/TC 51 “Cement & building limes” is the body which is developing Product Category Rules (PCR) for EPDs for cement and building limes.

Our view

When it comes to the sustainability assessment of buildings and construction works, CEMBUREAU supports the use of whole-life assessment, at the building or construction work level, over the three pillars of sustainability.  CEMBUREAU is an active participant in the wok of CEN/TC 350 “Sustainability of construction works”. 

CEMBUREAU has developed European average Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), for three cement types:

  • EPD for CEM I
  • EPD for CEM II
  • EPD for CEM II
EPD for cement (CEM I)
CEMBUREAU
EPD for cement (CEM II)
CEMBUREAU
EPD for cement (CEM III)
CEMBUREAU

Sustainable construction / Construction Products Regulation :

Construction Products Regulation

In brief

The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) - Regulation (EU) No 305/2011 - “lays down harmonised rules for the marketing of construction products in the EU. The Regulation provides a common technical language to assess the performance of construction products. It ensures that reliable information is available to professionals, public authorities, and consumers, so they can compare the performance of products from different manufacturers in different countries.” (source European Commission). Harmonised standards, developed by CEN, as well as providing technical information about a product, contain a part (Annex ZA) laying out the rules of for the CE marking and drawing up a declaration of performance (DoP) in accordance with the CPR. The European cement standard, EN 197-1, was the first harmonised standard in Europe.

Our view

In general, CEMBUREAU supports the positions of Construction Products Europe on the implementation of the CPR (links below). The interpretation of the CPR requirements and how they should be translated to harmonised standards has sometimes resulted in a lack of clarity/diverging views between CEN, the European Commission and industry. The delegated act for providing DoPs online had a positive impact, but the delay in the final publication of this act reduced the potential benefits and resulted in a period of uncertainty in the meantime. Standards in general are commonly agreed documents, the use of which is voluntary and which may be used independently of public legal requirements. Harmonised European standards also play a regulatory role via their Annex ZA. This role should nevertheless not dominate or delay the drafting or revising of harmonised standards. CEMBUREAU echoes the call made by Construction Products Europe for clear procedural timelines with regards to the establishment and amendment of standardisation requests.

More information: Construction Products Europe position on standardisation issues and on implementation of the CPR