EU building data project to drive full decarbonisation in three European countries

Czechia, Ireland and Spain will be the first countries to participate in a new initiative which aims to boost the availability of quality building climate data, a critical step towards full decarbonisation of the heavily emitting construction sector, responsible for almost 40 percent of global carbon emissions. The INDICATE initiative will bring together governments, industry and academia to tackle one of the most common barriers to enacting policies which will ensure climate neutral construction: a lack of reliable and comprehensive emissions data for buildings.

INDICATE seeks to accelerate policy development across Europe by generating critical baseline data for buildings, which can help guide policymakers to set carbon limits that cover the full lifecycle impact of buildings, from manufacture and construction, through to deconstruction and waste processing – the so-called ‘whole life carbon limits’.

Currently, almost all building regulations in Europe only address carbon emissions from the building operation, ignoring the emissions that are generated before a building comes into use and at the end of its life. These embodied carbon emissions – which together with operational CO2 are known as whole life carbon – can be more than half of a new building’s total carbon footprint and threaten to consume national construction carbon budgets well ahead of 2050 net zero goals.

Certain leading markets like Denmark, Finland, France and the Netherlands have already enacted whole life carbon policies. The first crucial step in setting these was to establish baselines. Other European countries are held back from following this example due to a lack of necessary data.

The coalition behind INDICATE is tackling this data gap. The innovative public-private approach of the project aims to secure broad support and investment for the results from industry and policy makers alike, helping to ensure the resulting data can be quickly put to use. This is just the beginning of what the coalition hopes will be a European-wide programme to finally quantify and drive a quick reduction in unregulated carbon emissions.

The EU recently took its own first steps towards whole life carbon regulation with proposals to introduce mandatory reporting in the revision of a key piece of European buildings policy, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). By strengthening political support and industry capability amongst more countries INDICATE will help to overcome opposition seen from some Member States to the ambitious proposals EU lawmakers have put forward for the EPBD revision.