Negotiations when it comes to the EU Construction Products Regulation- CPR have ended, with green groups feeling the disappointment that sustainability needs for construction products go on to have a dearth of vision and oversight. The failure of the EU to take meaningful action in order to regulate this massively polluting sector goes on to mean that, for the time being, the construction sector has kind of dodged decarbonization, thereby derailing the EU’s path when it comes to carbon neutrality.
The EU must go on to act to lessen the massive environmental impact of the construction sector 1 so that it can very well meet its commitments to slash carbon footprints coming from buildings 2 and also lessen the impact of the climate crisis. The law finalized yesterday could have set mandatory EU requirements to eliminate the worst-performing products, as environmental organizations have long called for 3.Unfortunately, provisional CPR agreement goes on to falls short of this ambition.
Pollute-as-usual when it comes to construction products
The revised CPR happens to be a menu of possibilities sans a clear vision, not paying heed to its objective of delivering sustainable construction products across the European market. Despite the fact that it has acknowledged the need to limit the environmental and climate effects of construction products, numerous provisions happen to be far too general and also fail to offer specific guidance in terms of execution, plans, deadlines, or even targets. The part that the European Commission plays is also left ambiguous and does not have a clear mandate, thereby furthering the delay of any change.
Construction products will go on to continue to rely on the compulsory standards developed in the industry-dominated for a having limited oversight from EU institutions as well as limited participation by civil society. Higher ambitions when it comes to sustainable products are going to be unlikely, with experience repeatedly proving that dependence on industry self-regulation does not work. 4
It is well to be noted that even some of the more positive developments happen to be let down by ambition that’s inadequate and also prevents proper delivery. For instance, manufacturers are going to be obliged to disclose environmental information for the first time. However, this obligation just covers Global Warming Potential- GWP and also ignores other environmental effects like water and resource usage, chemicals, as well as land use impacts until 2028 and 2030. Therefore, up until 2030, the construction sector will only be obliged to give away almost half of the prominent environmental damage it goes on to cause.
There happens to be some good news as well, and that’s that despite the last-minute derogations that have been introduced into the text, the EU will eventually witness the development of EU green public procurement- GPP rules when it comes to construction products, beginning at the end of 2026. Coming out with a solution to the present fragmented GPP systems throughout the Member States, these new rules, if in case are ambitious, can go on to secure green products with public spending when it comes to construction activities that are 14% of the EU’s GDP 5.
Robust eco-design rules that are sidelined for construction
In spite of the landmark inclusion when it comes to construction products across the European Commission’s initial ESPR proposal, eco-design continues to be a possibility for construction; however, it is not a reality. Provisions when it comes to implementation happen to be very vague, without targets that are clear or certain deadlines when it comes to action. Not like other products that happen to be covered by eco-design, the pen to write the needs for construction products has been outsourced to a technical expert group, namely, the CPR Technical Expert Group, in which climate as well as environmental matters are not given priority.
The agreement also happens to be particularly worrying when it comes to cement, which has apparently been left out of the scope when it comes to new eco-design rules and also beyond the EU intervention until 2029. 6 But with a CPR that’s not ambitious and also fails to hold the industry accountable, it goes on to appear that the incumbent sector has gone on to secure another six years of business the way it has been the story.
 Construction has a vast carbon footprint, with its products (including cement, steel, and insulation) responsible for 250 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the EU annually – equivalent to flying around the world 38 million times. The sector uses 50% of all extracted resources and generates 30% of our waste.
 EU governments agreed last Thursday – https://eeb.org/negotiations-dilute-eu-building-law-member-states-now-hold-the-reins/ to calculate and cut the global warming potential (GWP) of all new EU buildings across their entire lifecycle starting 2030, a large portion of which is the embodied emissions from the production of construction materials.
 Joint letter – https://ecostandard.org/publications/joint-letter-recommendations-for-an-environmentally-ambitious-construction-products-regulation-cpr/ from ECOS and the EBB alongside 21 other organisations, ‘Recommendations for an environmentally ambitious Construction Products Regulation (CPR)’
 More than 5 billion tonnes of CO2 have been emitted by the construction sector since the publication of the first CPR due to the industry’s unwillingness to move forward with sustainability requirements in standards.
 Advancing Green Public Procurement and Low-Carbon Procurement in Europe: Insights | International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd.org) – https://www.iisd.org/articles/deep-dive/advancing-green-public-procurement-and-low-carbon-procurement-europe-insights
 Despite being a product with one of the highest climate impacts, cement was not included in the list of priority sectors in the recently agreed EU Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). Instead, it has been given until 2029 to take steps to decarbonise using tools like the CPR, after which the European Commission could step in if not enough has been done. This will very likely delay meaningful action.