Tuesday, June 19, 2007

INNOVATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR DRIVES AMBITIOUS EUROPEAN TARGETS FOR CO2 AND ENERGY REDUCTIONS

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 18, 2007 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- The second European forum on eco-innovation, held in Brussels on 11 June 2007 as a prequel to European Green Week, focused on the need for sustainable construction. The event brought together some 240 people from public authorities, research organisation, industry associations and companies to exchange good practice in sustainable building. Innovation in this area is crucial in meeting ambitious European targets for carbon dioxide (CO2) and energy reductions.

Construction accounts for 10% of EU gross domestic product (GDP) and 7% of employment. However, it is a major consumer of resources, taking 40% of total energy and materials in Europe over the whole life cycle from construction through use, retrofit and eventual demolition. Therefore, this sector has a key role in ensuring the EU meets targets adopted at the European Council in March this year. These include support for a global agreement on a 30% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020 or at least 20% unilaterally.

To achieve these ambitious targets, the sector must overcome economic, technical and regulatory barriers to refurbishment and new build. This requires increased collaboration and integration, dissemination of good practice, focusing on the market for sustainable development and contributing to the policy debate at EU and Member State level.

Timo Makela, Director Sustainable Development & Integration, Environment DG, European Commission, summarized key issues to be tackled as:

* Dealing with both new build and refurbishment, with its more demanding challenges;


* Making sure new and existing technologies work well in the market place – here the Commission can help overcome any lack of knowledge;


* Developing more dynamic standards at Member State and EU level as current standards tend to be too static; and


* Ensuring standards are not barriers but rather serve as benchmarks essential to reward real advances and ensure a level playing field in the construction sector.

"The EU cannot battle alone," insisted Maria da Graca Carvalho, advisor to the President of the European Commission. "The results of the recent G8 meeting in Rostock, Germany shows both the USA and China are now moving forward on climate change. The EU is setting ambitious but achievable targets with a focus on the urban built environment. "We need innovation to sustain this effort and to prosper; this requires a joint effort."

Industry has established the Europe Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) with a strategic research agenda looking ahead to 2020. It contributes to lead market initiatives in energy-efficient buildings and sustainable materials. "We are convinced this is the best way of meeting the needs of the future, both here and in the rest of the world," said Jean- Pierre Hamelin, head of advanced technologies for the ECTP.

The European Commission is heavily committed to supporting sustainable construction by legislation and through a series of programmes covering building techniques and intelligent energy use as well funding demonstrations and pilot projects both directly and through structural funds. These needs are high on the Commission agenda and forthcoming proposals include boosting consumer involvement.

CONTACT:
Mr. Cédric HANANEL
+32 (0) 2 340 30 64 /+32 (0) 494 54 71 03
Email: etapforum.eu@pracsis.be

and

Mrs. Àngela CORBALÁN
+32 (0) 2 340 30 61 / +32 (0) 485 57 47 68
Email: ac@pracsis.be

Website: www.ec.europa.eu/environment/ecoinnovation2007

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