Reacting on the COVID crisis, the Commission updated its industrial strategy in May 2020 to accelerate the green and digital transition and increase the resilience of the EU industry. The concept of industrial ecosystems was taken up and the approach to co-create pathways to accompany the transition towards reaching the EU-wide recovery and decarbonisation targets set for 2030 and 2050 has been initiated. The Construction ecosystem was identified as being essential for meeting these targets.
The Commission set-up the High Level Construction Forum (HLCF) to co-create a roadmap for the digital, green and resilient transition pathways with concrete actions and targets for 2030 and 2050. The HLCF will provide the overall direction ambitions and goals and frame the work of thematic cluster groups, which will enable more focussed discussions on key topics for the digital, green and resilient transition. The Commission intends to release the roadmap by summer 2022. The transition pathways are a dynamic process. The co-creators will also co-own this process by carrying out concrete actions, by providing feedback on the implementation and by promoting best practices and solutions including those from other ecosystems. The pathways are regularly reviewed, and new tailor-made measures are taken if necessary.
On 28 September 2021 the HLCF was launched. In the morning session, the main priorities and themes were discussed:
It was stated that the construction ecosystem is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic but faces many challenges: the impact of climate on the built environment, the need to decarbonise the building stock (renovation for existing and nearly zero emission buildings for new buildings), the need to invest in digitalisation and human capital, construction material shortages and price increases.
The EU adopted a broad set of strategies and legal initiatives providing the frame for transition in the construction ecosystem which need to be looked at in an integrated and holistic way.
Identifying economic and business benefits and the complexity of the building ecosystem are seen as general challenge for mobilising private funds for a more sustainable building stock.
Active participation of the public sector and green public procurement are key to create demand for a sustainable built environment.
The transition must keep humans in the centre by creating an affordable and climate-neutral built environment that provides a high quality of life for European citizens.
In the afternoon, the green, digital and resilience transition pathways were discussed in separate panels:
The pathway to a green transition would require going beyond energy efficiency, setting sustainability targets based on Life Cycle Assessment and enabling circularity. Level(s), the EU Sustainable Buildings Framework, could serve as a reference methodology. Alignment along the value chain, certification mechanisms and the creation of infrastructure and conditions, are needed to facilitate the green transition.
The digital transition is seen as beneficial as it will connect all steps in the building life cycle. In order to advance, regulation and standardisation are required. The Commission Data Act will set the frame for B2B data sharing and could help to establish a fair level playing field. Rules for common dataspaces would be establishing trust, collaboration and interoperability. Better sharing of data and tools like Digital Building Logbooks, Digital Product Passports and digital twins will support greening and resilience. Public demand in the context of public procurement can serve as a lever for innovation and standardisation, for example by promoting the use of BIM.
To build-up resilience the involvement of municipalities and the willingness from the industry to propose new approaches are needed. It was emphasised that skilled workforce that can make the transition must be available. Shortage of materials and increasing prices are a concern for industrial stakeholders as they put at risk the achievement of European strategies like the renovation wave.
The Commission convened virtual meetings of the cluster groups on 19 October for the digital, on 20 October for the resilience and on 21 October for the green transition.
Members interested to be informed on the work of the High Level Construction Forum can sign-up into the mailing list of the Technical Secretariat.