Buildings, carbon neutrality, a changing climate and one European response

So, I wanted to get a feel for what the tenor toward climate change in the European Union (EU) is.

Important and integral to the discussion on climate change and global warming are not just the terms greenhouse gas and the greenhouse effect but when it was that those terms were first introduced into the mainstream vernacular.

This is where I will begin.

According to the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1991 edition), the term greenhouse effect was introduced between 1935 and 19401, while the term greenhouse gas made its entry into the mainstream vocabulary between 1980 and 1985.2

And, their definitions, respectively, are as follows:

greenhouse effect, n. heating from the atmosphere resulting from the absorption by certain gases, as carbon dioxide and water vapor, of solar energy that has been captured and reradiated by the earth’s surface.”

greenhouse gas, n. any of the gases whose absorption of solar radiation is responsible for the greenhouse effect, including carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and the fluorocarbons.”

Such terms as these made more of an imprint in the EU than they did in the U.S., or so it would seem.

It would stand to reason due to the fact that, in terms of car-purchasing habits, for a time, at least, diesel-powered motor vehicles seemed to be the preferred choice over gasoline-powered versions, from what I understand, on account of half of European motorists buying into the notion that operating a motor vehicle outfitted with a diesel-powered engine was better for the environment, at least where carbon dioxide emissions-releases were concerned, that is, until just recently when that thinking was turned on its head.

Now, as for buildings and net neutrality as it relates to climate change, what is the general response right now?

Consider this on Euractiv.

In the Nov. 29, 2018 “Climate neutral Europe needs building renovation: EU Commission sets EU on the right path in Climate & Energy Transition” press release, written is:

“Yesterday, the European Commission presented its Long Term ‘Clean Planet for All’ Vision exploring pathways towards a climate neutral Europe by 2050. Eurima applauds this vision confirming both the commitment of this Commission to future-proofing the Union and to the necessity to act now to preserve people, planet and prosperity.

“The EU Commission rightly identifies the renovation of the EU building stock as main contributor from an Energy Efficiency First perspective. A recent study by clean-energy consultancy ClimAct for Eurima examined different possible scenarios for bringing emissions down to net zero and concluded that, without renovation of the building stock, this carbon neutrality objective might prove impossible to reach.

“Existing technologies in the building and energy efficiency sectors are already able to maximise the contribution of ambitious building renovation strategies but innovative business models, policy approaches and public private partnerships are required to upscale existing initiatives and projects. This needs to happen in the next decade if we want to be on track for 2050.

“‘For buildings, we have just one shot at getting things right before 2050’ said Jan te Bos, Director General of Eurima. ‘given their expected lifetime, buildings are only likely to be renovated once, between now and 2050’. To make these renovations count, we need to look at the whole of the building. This means an energy-efficient ‘envelope’ – the roofs, walls, floors and windows making up buildings -, with properly planned heating and cooling systems, and an effective integration of renewable-energy systems and technologies.

“At the same time it must be clear that Energy Efficiency is not a luxury product and should be to the benefit of both society and all individual citizens. Ambitious building renovation programs will not only be pivotal in realizing the long-term objectives as set out by the Commission today but, because of their important societal and individual ancillary benefits, will be the natural catalyst to ensure popular support for these necessary ambitions trough [sic] improvement of comfort, health and well-being at home.

“‘It is important for the EU that the Commission has put a “dot-on-the-horizon” to guide the Union to climate neutrality by 2050’ underlined Pascal Eveillard, President of Eurima ‘this ensures the necessary perspective for governments, industry, civil society and the financial sector to invest and ensure that individual citizens will be able to contribute fully to this important process’”

Meanwhile, in the release it was explained what Eurima is. The acronym itself stands for “European Association of Insulation Manufacturers.”


  1. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991, p. 586
  2. Ibid

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This post was last revised on May 31, 2020 @ 3:34 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

– Alan Kandel