How 'healthy' are European policies?
The “Health in all EU Policies” event was held today at the European Parliament in Brussels, hosted by MEP Anneli Jätteenmäki (ALDE), rapporteur on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI Committee).
The event brought together the most relevant stakeholders and policy makers to discuss the positive potential for aspects relating to human health, and to explore options for increasing the relevance of health in EU policy making overall. By gathering a wide range of different stakeholders and policy makers (MEPs, NGOs, academia, the Estonian Council Presidency and industry), momentum is being built to demonstrate the importance of health to all European policy makers, and to raise it as a priority.
On the occasion of today’s event, the ENVI Committee's rapporteur on the EPBD highlighted the importance of prioritising health in EU policies:
EU policies affect people’s everyday life. Improving health aspects in different policies never goes to waste. When we are setting targets for the energy performance of buildings we have to remember they are for people to live in,
The European Union has a good track record protecting people’s health from environmental and climate issues. However, despite the EU’s leadership in this field, many people in Europe still suffer from chronic illnesses, such as asthma or heart disease, while premature deaths are still being caused by air pollution, chemical exposure or even energy choices. According to research by the German research institute Fraunhofer Institut für Bauphysik (IBP) 84 million Europeans live in homes that are too damp, causing respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD.
The indoor environment of buildings should contribute to the advancement of health - not work against it. Buildings should therefore be constructed from non-toxic, durable and recyclable materials as well as have sufficient natural light and suitable temperature and humidity levels at all times. They should be sufficiently insulated but also protected against overheating. In short, buildings have to fulfil multiple functions,
Mrs. Anne Stauffer, Director for Strategy and Campaigns at Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) who was part of the panel debate agreed:
Promoting and protecting people’s health through ‘a health in all policies approach’ is a clear win-win, not only for the people in Europe, but also for its economy. EU climate and energy policies are a field where many health benefits can be reaped. For example, investing in modernising existing buildings can help to prevent diseases such as asthma, while at the same time reducing the sector’s carbon footprint,
Ingrid Reumert, VP in the VELUX Group, elaborated on best-practices and research findings from their extensive buildings program, aimed at demonstrating how tomorrow’s sustainable and people-centric buildings can be built today by using existing solutions:
It doesn’t take a lot to create healthy environments. But implementing a holistic approach in EU member states and make health a focal point could certainly accelerate such a journey. Let’s take the first step with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,
For more than 75 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 40 countries and around 9,500 employees worldwide.The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2016, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 2.4 billion, and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 155 million in charitable grants. For more information, visit www.velux.com.