In the European Union buildings are responsible for more
than 40% of the total energy consumption, 30% of the CO2
emissions, and the construction sector is estimated to
generate approximately 40% of all man-made waste
(Bourdeau, 1999). This article focuses on the
sustainability of buildings. The housing sector
contributes considerably to environmental problems.
For instance in the Netherlands 70.000 new houses are
built every year and four billion Euros are spent on
renovation and maintenance of their housing stock.
Sustainable housing offers opportunities to achieve
environmental benefits (Waals & al., 2000). The Kyoto
Protocol increases the pressure to reduce energy
consumption and the carbon dioxide emissions of the
housing sector. The nature of environmental problems
is global, and therefore, developments should be made
in co-operation with others. This article attempts to
present a state-of-the-art overview of government policies
for sustainable buildings and environmental building
regulations in five European countries. It suggests that
in order to meet the Kyoto targets governments should
clearly lead and steer the progress of the sustainable
buildings, instead of leaving its implementation to market
forces. Cost ineffective investments should be compensated
with the combination of legislation and subsidies.
This article is based on research conducted as one of the
key projects called the Ecological City within the
framework of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre,
at the Delft University of Technology.
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