Governments and construction sector in three European countries launch EU building data project to drive full decarbonisation

News, 31.03.2023

Czechia, Ireland and Spain will be the first countries to participate in a new initiative which aims to boost the availability of quality building climate data, a critical step towards fully decarbonising the heavily emitting sector, responsible for almost 40% of global carbon emissions.
The INDICATE initiative will bring together governments, industry and academia to tackle one of the most common barriers to enacting policies which will ensure climate neutral construction: a lack of reliable and comprehensive emissions data for buildings.​

INDICATE seeks to accelerate policy development across Europe by generating critical baseline data for buildings, which can help guide policymakers to set carbon limits that cover the full lifecycle impact of buildings, from manufacture and construction, through to deconstruction and waste processing - the so-called ‘whole life carbon limits’.

Currently, almost all building regulations in Europe only address carbon emissions from the building operation, ignoring the emissions that are generated before a building comes into use and at the end of its life1. These embodied carbon emissions – which together with operational CO2 are known as whole life carbon – can be more than half of a new building’s total carbon footprint and threaten to consume national construction carbon budgets well ahead of 2050 net zero goals.

Certain leading markets like Denmark, Finland, France and the Netherlands have already enacted whole life carbon policies. The first crucial step in setting these was to establish baselines. Other European countries are held back from following this example due to a lack of necessary data2.

The coalition behind INDICATE is tackling this data gap. The innovative public-private approach of the project aims to secure broad support and investment for the results from industry and policy makers alike, helping to ensure the resulting data can be quickly put to use. This is just the beginning of what the coalition hopes will be a European-wide programme to finally quantify and drive a quick reduction in unregulated carbon emissions. 

The EU recently took its own first steps towards whole life carbon regulation with proposals to introduce mandatory reporting in the revision of a key piece of European buildings policy, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). By strengthening political support and industry capability amongst more countries INDICATE will help to overcome opposition seen from some Member States to the ambitious proposals EU lawmakers have put forward for the EPBD revision.

Petr Serafín, Director, Department of construction and building materials, Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic
“We greatly appreciate that we can participate with our projects in INDICATE, which will financially and technically support the creation of several case studies mapping carbon emissions during the entire life cycle of buildings. We believe that thanks to this project we will obtain relevant data about the building stock, not only about new buildings, but also about existing objects. Valid data is essential to move towards carbon neutrality in decarbonisation, which we should achieve by 2050 according to the Paris Agreement. A big benefit of the project is that it also includes presentations of study results to all interested parties, including the state administration.”

Francis-Noel Duffy, Member of Dáil Éireann for Dublin South West and the Green Party Spokesperson for Housing
“Addressing embodied carbon emissions is critical to halve our emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The development of high quality data and baseline data for buildings constructed in Ireland through pilot projects is a key step in supporting the regulation of these emissions in Ireland.”

Joe Durkan, Head of Technical – National Retrofit, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
“High quality data on whole life carbon emissions associated with our built environment is critical to support policymaking and the decarbonisation of our building stock. SEAI recognises the importance of collecting standardised data through the development of a national methodology to assess these emissions and is pleased to support the INDICATE project.”

Belén Vitón Sanz – Spanish Office for Climate Change (OECC), Sub-Directorate General for the Coordination of Actions to Combat Climate Change – Ministry for the ecological transition and the demographic challenge
“Initiatives such as Indicate can help progress towards a more accurate knowledge of the carbon footprint of buildings in Spain, which is undoubtedly essential for the     development of decarbonisation policies and strategies.”

The partners in the three newly launched national pilots are:
●    Chance for Buildings 
●    Czech Green Building Council
●    Czech Technical University in Prague
With support from the Ministries of Environment and of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.

●    Irish Green Building Council
●    University of Galway
INDICATE is being carried out through Construct Innovate, Ireland’s national research centre for construction technology and innovation. The lead partners above are supported by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, University College Dublin and Associate Members of Construct Innovate.

●    Green Building Council España
●    University of Seville
With the Government of Spain as observers.

INDICATE was launched in December 2022 by a European consortium including the Building Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), the Catholic University (KU) Leuven and World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), and is coordinated by Danish consultancy, Smith Innovation. It is co-funded by the Laudes Foundation and cash or in-kind contributions from national partners, including national governments.


The Circular Economy - a Powerful Force for Climate Mitigation, Material Economics, 2019 
EU Policy Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, WorldGBC, 2022