Construction is one of Europe’s largest industries, with an annual turnover in excess of €900 billion and more than 12 million employees in the EU-15 alone. Unfortunately, it also has one of the worst occupational safety and health (OSH) records in the region, with over a 1000 fatalities, and many more being injured or made ill each year. A problem that is estimated to cost businesses and tax payers nearly €75 billion a year, not to mention the human suffering.1

The construction along with manufacturing accounts for 10 per cent of global GHG emissions worldwide.2 Buildings are the source of most of the world’s greenhouse gases and cement production is a big source of C02s. In the next 30 years there will be more new urban buildings built than in all previous human history. Buildings – both commercial and residential – represent a larger source of global warming pollution than cars and trucks. Typical building construction, use, and demolition, as well as the manufacturing of building materials, contribute significantly to environmental problems. In the United States, buildings account for:

• 36% of total energy use
• 65% of electricity consumption
• 30% of greenhouse gas emissions
• 30% of raw materials use
• 30% of waste output (equal to 136 million tons annually)
• 12% of potable water consumption
• A typical 1700 sq. ft wood frame home requires the equivalent of clear cutting one-acre of forest.3

Recommendations:

• Transform all new building design to be carbon neutral by 2030 using zero fossil fuels to operate.
• Efficient use of lighting fixtures, appliances, heating and cooling systems
• Choose construction materials and interior finished products with zero or low emissions to improve indoor air quality.
• Energy efficient construction
• Environmentally responsible design for a practical and balanced approach for more ecologically and economically sustainable facilities. It should consider all aspects of the physical life cycle during the design cycle and integrate environmental requirements at the start, so the total negative impacts can be minimised. Sustainable design ensures the "best fit" of the built environment to the natural environment. This approach allows us to be more responsible stewards of our natural, financial and human resources.
• Through conservation, improved maintainability, recycling, reuse and other actions, reduced consumption, efficiency and innovations, we can meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.
• Installing insulation can reduce heat loss through the roof by 60 per cent.

Notes

1. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, http://osha.europa.eu/info
2. Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, ‘Climate Change 101: Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change’, Technological Solutions.
3. http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/GreenBuilding/Basics.htm