The Netherlands: Regulating the environmental performance of buildings, taking a whole-life cycle approach | Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation

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The Netherlands: Regulating the environmental performance of buildings, taking a whole-life cycle approach

The Dutch government enlists a life cycle analysis approach to minimise the impact of buildings throughout their entire lives.


The Dutch construction sector has a raw material footprint of 48.9 million tonnes per year, most of which goes toward construction and maintenance of houses, offices, roads and other infrastructure; and consists mainly of minerals and metals. This sector consumes far more than Dutch fossil fuel-based industries (33 million tonnes) and agrifood (26 million tonnes). Further, the construction sector accounts for 50% of raw materials used, 40% of total energy consumption, and 30% of total water consumption in the Netherlands. An estimated 40% of national waste involves construction and demolition waste, while the sector is responsible for approximately 35% of CO2 emissions.

The Dutch government has the ambition to be 50% circular by 2030 and the Environmental Performance of Buildings (MPG) shares this goal. Reaching this target requires a life cycle approach to minimise the impact of a building or structure throughout its entire life cycle.


The life cycle analysis (LCA) approach underpins the MPG, which translates the selected construction materials, construction activities and construction equipment for a specific project, into an indicator for its environmental performance. The environmental performance of each component of a construction project is described in LCA-based Environmental Product Declarations or EPDs. The EPDs are based on EU regulations.

The MPG estimates the environmental impact of the materials used in a building and the impact of its construction. It is mandatory for new office buildings (larger than 100 square metres) and new-build homes. The MPG of a building is the sum of the shadow costs of all materials used in a building. The materials that will be replaced during the life of the building must also be taken into account. The total sum is divided by the lifespan and by the gross floor area of ​​a building. The MPG is then expressed as the shadow costs per square metre per year. The MPG requirements were tightened in 2021 and will be periodically adjusted to reach 50% by 2030, in alignment with the national ambition to become 50% circular by 2030.

Most regulations in the EU and beyond focus on the energy consumption of a building during its use phase. The MPG brings into scope the environmental impact of the resource use phase of a building. As such, the MPG addresses the issue that as buildings become more energy-efficient, the climate impact of the materials they contain increases as a share of a buildings’ total life-cycle impact. This way the MPG avoids, for example, that buildings become more energy efficient at the expense of higher carbon intensive materials.


As of January 1, 2018, a maximum limit value of 1.0 applies to the MPG. In July 2021, the environmental performance for new homes (not offices) was tightened from 1.0 to 0.8. The aim is to gradually tighten the requirement and halve it by 2030 at the latest.

The Dutch government uses the MPG score in its public procurement procedure. A national database of products with their score, supports suppliers with estimating the MPG score of their proposal. For suppliers of construction products, this is an incentive to reduce the environmental impact of their products. This way, the government and market participants can incentivise and reward investments to lower the environmental impact of construction activities.

Critical review of the MPG indicated that consistency in methods to estimate the environmental impact of a product is important, and ensures that all parties involved trust the approach. This does require continuous investment in improving the system, a democratic decision-making process and sufficient financial means to make sure that all products obtain a fair score.

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Photo by Victor He on Unsplash.

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