RE-GREEN Framework

There is a crucial opportunity in the emerging Green Economy where the environment, the economy and the social features can no longer be considered in isolation. The Green Growth Strategy (OECD, 2010) stresses that the transition to a green economy will require dedicated policy approaches to foster the development and diffusion of green growth, and will also open new opportunities for jobs and skills development. The Green Economy Report (UNEP, 2011) considers 11 key sectors that are in the foundation of the transition to a green economy, which are: agriculture, fishing, forests and water, energy efficiency and renewable energy, manufacturing, waste, buildings, transport, tourism and cities.

The building sector is one of the main contributors to the global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).  In fact, the European Commission’s 2011 Energy Efficiency Plan considers that the greatest energy saving potential lies in buildings, due to the fact that almost 40% of the final energy consumption takes place in buildings (houses, offices, shops, and other buildings). However, the renovation rate of buildings is too low. According to the Green Economy Report (UNEP, 2011) in developed countries, opportunities for greening the building sector are mainly in retrofitting existing buildings, which are becoming a critical area of intervention to reduce energy demands and the GHG emissions.

In this framework is important to highlight the key role of public policy and public authorities, taking into account that public buildings represent about 12% by area of the EU building stock. As outlines the Green Economy Report the government-owned buildings (schools, hospitals, social housing units, etc.) are ideal to begin implementing greener building policies, including green public procurement (GPP).

The GPP plays an important role in this context, because it is a procedure of public acquisitions where environmental considerations are taken into account, in order to reduce the environmental impact caused by public sector consumption. Moreover, the GPP can be used to stimulate and enlarge markets for environmentally friendly products and services, influencing the whole supply chain and also stimulating the use of green standards in private procurement.  The Public Procurement for a Better Environment report (EC, 2008) has identified ten key sectors for GPP, and construction is the highest priority sector.

These issues are of great importance to the INTERREG IV C Programme because they are consistent with its priorities, namely in the area of energy. In fact this project will support an interregional cooperation process that contributes to stimulating energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies in buildings, as well as the move to a green economy.

Specifically the project intends to enable European regions to exchange best practices and experiences and to improve their policies, methods and capacities in what concerns energy, sustainable development and green growth. Thus, these problems are of great interest to the partnership since most of the partners are local and regional authorities with strong needs associated to improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, encompassing the intervention in greening the building sector.