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Citizens at the Heart of the Sustainably-built Environment

Citizens at the Heart of the Sustainably-built Environment

On 19 November 2015, The Concrete Initiative held its first annual event, Concrete Dialogue 2015, entitled: Citizens at the heart of the sustainably-built environment.  This event brought together Members of the European Parliament, European Commission and civil society for a concrete dialogue roundtable to debate issues of relevance to sustainable construction. Furthermore, a new study on the multiplier effect of investment in concrete, as well as a JRC study on sustainability in construction were presented, providing new insights to further stimulate the discussion.

In addition to presentations, two panel debates were organised. The first focused on "Cement and concrete industry: Multiplier on the economy and their contribution to a low carbon economy" a study commissioned by The Concrete Initiative and produced by consultants Le BIPE.  Several interesting were raised by both panelists and participants.  For example, it was highlighted that under EU Cohesion policy EUR 40 bn are available for low carbon economy, providing a strong boost for energy efficiency in housing. Nevertheless, its impelmentation remains a challenge.  Furthermore, the need to reach out to local management authorities was noted as a way of tackling the decentralisation of building renovation projects.  The European Commission also noted that the contruction sector is the best placed to navigate both growth and sustainability.  In relation to concrete, it was highlighted that, on balance, concrete is a  low carbon product and essential for sustainable construction but that there is a need for a stronger role for financial instruments.  Maintaining a full suppy chain in Europe was also seen as essentil in terms of growth and jobs.

The second panel looked at the second study presented, Building Design for Safety and Sustainability  by the Joint Research Center of the European Commission as well as tackling the issue of the circular economy.  Here the Commission highlighted several areas which could be improved, including the scaling up of of cross-border construction (regulation of the profession),  increasing the efficiency in public procurement management,  and integrating services into industrial activity (i.e include the maintenance of buildings in the design phase/Life Cycle Assessment). Regarding the circular economy package, DG Environment indicated that the  review of Waste Framework Directive would focus on recycling-reuse and creation of secondary  waste markets.  On this pont it was noted that whilst it is good to see that policies will be integrated within the package, existing and well-functioning systems should be maintained.  In terms of the end of life of a building or infrastructure, it was noted that thought should be given to the best way of constructing and dismantling a building. 

Publications presented:

Presentations (final programe available from here)

Photos taken during this event are available from here

For a summary of this event, see our storify highlights - or watch what participants had to say!