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Green standards for construction to drive secondary markets

The European Commission has set out guidance on greener procurement of public sector buildings in a bid to boost secondary material markets.

The voluntary guidance promotes the inclusion of recycled building materials, reduction of demolition waste and higher energy efficiency.

A higher ’comprehensive’ standard recognises that the main building elements comprise 30% or more of recycled or reused content, while the ‘core’ basic standard requires 15%.

For demolition waste, an 80% reuse and recycling rate achieves the higher standard while the lower standard is 55%.

The guidance says: “The use of recycled materials such as aggregates from construction and demolition waste can help to develop a market for such materials, in line with EU circular economy objectives, and provide associated resource efficiency benefits.”

The construction and use of buildings in the EU accounts for approximately 50% of energy use and total extracted materials, and a third of water use and waste generated.

Public authorities are responsible for about 30% of expenditure in the construction sector.

The guidance recommends that recycled content is verified for each batch of products, while a ’practical’ document indicates how the criteria affect the different stages of procuring a building.

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