European green building space is predicted to almost quadruple by 2016.

European Union (EU) member countries are in the process of adopting “20-20-20” targets that call for 20% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the increase of renewables to 20% of total energy use, and 20% cuts in overall energy consumption. Representing one of the world’s most ambitious climate change-related initiatives, these goals have strong implications for the increased adoption of energy-efficiency measures in commercial buildings across the continent.

The building sector accounts for nearly 40% of total energy consumption in the region. According to a recent report by Pike Research, these policy goals will help increase the amount of certified green building space in Europe by nearly four-fold, to 687 million sq m by 2016. While EU-level policy initiatives will provide important market shapers, the primary drivers for the spread of energy-efficient buildings will be reducing energy costs.

“Not only are energy prices currently high, but price volatility and future carbon legislation present significant risks to organizations as future energy costs could rise unpredictably,” says research analyst Eric Bloom. “As a result, the percentage of total building space that is certified green will increase from less than 1% in 2010 to more than 2% in 2016.”

The largest markets for energy-efficient buildings in Europe are Germany and France; each represents a market comparable in size to the rest of Europe, including Eastern Europe and Russia. In Germany, where the market is relatively fragmented by region, the decision to abandon nuclear power and shift to renewables in the coming decade has accelerated the push for energy efficiency in buildings. France, meanwhile, has instituted the national energy planGrenelle de l’Environnement, which aims to establish France as the least carbon-intensive country in the EU. Already, a quarter of new construction in France requests green building certification. In Germany, half the cities now require Passive House construction in new public buildings.

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