A high level debate on sustainable construction featuring key stakeholders at EU level was held as the European concrete sector came together at the end of May to launch The Concrete Initiative.
According to the initiative, construction is the largest single economic activity and the greatest industrial employer in Europe with some 20 million jobs.
The concrete industry as a whole employs some 550,000 people in the EU, generating approximately €65,000 added value per employed capita per annum.
Bearing this in mind, the launch event for the Concrete Initiative focused on a debate with EU stakeholders on key issues including the regulatory framework which is required to achieve Europe’s goals, as well as the need for local resources, local manufacturing and a local market.
The initiative also called for EU legislation to remain material neutral. This followed the publication of a new European Commission Communication entitled A New EU Forest Strategy for Forests and the Forest-based Sector.
The Concrete Initiative called the communication "misleading" in the way it promotes the use of wood as a sustainable construction material. According to the initiative, the EU study shows a general call to favour wood over other building materials, without underpinning such a call by robust analysis that compares different building solutions over the whole life cycle of a building.
It said, “Whole-life performance is a concept whereby all impacts, including those from raw material extraction, manufacturing, construction, use of the building, to end-of-life disposal or reuse, are taken together when assessing the impacts of a given construction.
"Focusing on just part of the lifecycle gives a misleading idea of the overall impacts of buildings and infrastructure projects,” the Initiative said.
The Concrete Initiative hopes to continue to engage with EU authorities on how to stimulate construction through policy measures and standards that generate growth and innovation in a more sustainable way.
The Concrete Initiative gathers together the cement and concrete sectors. It is composed of CEMBUREAU (the European Cement Association) BIBM (the European Federation of Precast Concrete) and ERMCO (the European Ready-Mixed Concrete Organisation).