Does the EU Construction Products Regulation fall short on sustainability?

The European Environmental Bureau has criticised the EU's new Construction Products Regulation, saying its lack of ambition and oversight could hinder carbon neutrality goals.

In brief: 
  • The revised EU Construction Products Regulation does not include mandatory requirements for eliminating low-performing construction products
  • EEB environmental group voiced its disappointment with the lack of specific guidance and targets 
  • Perceived shortcomings may have the potential to impact the EU's green building and carbon neutrality objectives.
In detail: 

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has voiced its disappointment following the conclusion of negotiations on the EU Construction Products Regulation (CPR). 

The revised regulation, which is focused on minimising the construction sector's environmental impact, has been criticised by the organisation for a lack of vision and effective oversight, a position the EEB said could derail the EU's path to carbon neutrality.

Now finalised, the law has missed a crucial opportunity to set mandatory EU requirements for eliminating the worst-performing construction products, according to the EEB. 

This gap could allow the construction industry to pursue a 'pollute-as-usual' approach, with standards developed in industry-dominated forums and limited participation from civil society, it added.

The European Environmental Bureau policy officer, Laetitia Aumont, said: “The EU’s green building goals are compromised by this law’s failure to promote low-carbon materials. These highly polluting materials will be a massive roadblock to EU building and carbon goals in the next decades. 

“The EU must stop being naive, cease relying on industry self-regulation, and address the environmental hazards of construction for a sustainable future.”

The EEB highlighted that many provisions in the revised CPR are too general, lacking specific implementation guidance, plans, deadlines, or targets. This vagueness would leave the European Commission's role ambiguous, further delaying meaningful change in sustainable construction practices.

One positive development, albeit with limited scope, is the obligation for manufacturers to disclose environmental information, including their global warming potential (GWP). 

However, this requirement overlooks other significant environmental impacts until 2028 and 2030, which could allow the construction industry to only partially disclose its environmental damage impact.

The EEB also noted the inclusion of EU green public procurement (GPP) rules for construction products, set to begin at the end of 2026. If ambitious, these rules could leverage public spending to promote green products in construction activities, which account for 14% of the EU's GDP.

Yet, the EEB expressed concern over the sidelined ecodesign rules for construction. It said there is no clear target or deadline for action, and the responsibility for writing requirements has been outsourced to a technical expert group where climate and environmental matters are not prioritised.

Environmental Coalition on Standards programme manager, Federica Pozzi, said: “The EU has delayed sustainable construction products by a decade, surrendering instead to the wish list of one of the most polluting sectors – one that has so far taken insufficient steps to decarbonise. 

“Without targets or ambition, the CPR has no vision, and it provides no clarity to an industry in which decarbonisation is an inevitable necessity. This will hurt the competitiveness of the construction sector, including progressive industry players that are at the core of its transition. It seems that ‘making sustainable products the norm’ does not apply to all sectors after all.”

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