IEA Experts’ Dialogue on Materials Trends in Buildings Construction



Meeting Scope

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is embarking on a project to analyse material efficiency strategies and material use trends in different sectors of the economy. The project aims at studying the demand of key materials in the context of 2°C ambitions, as well as the resulting system-level impacts on energy demand and related CO2 emissions. The design and construction of sustainable and energy-efficient buildings will play a prominent role in the transition to low-carbon energy systems. As policy and markets drive uptake of more sustainable buildings to meet climate objectives, the linkages between material demand and GDP are likely to diverge from historical trends. Material demand in buildings may change due to strategies such designing buildings to be more energy-efficient, constructing buildings from materials that last longer and are less carbon-intensive, reducing material losses at construction sites, and enhancing the reusability and recyclability of construction materials. These strategies will affect both the quantity and composition of materials demand, which will in turn have implications for CO2 emissions from the industrial sectors that produce key materials like steel, cement and aluminium.

To provide strategic insights to this project, the IEA hosted an experts’ dialogue on 9 March 2018 in Paris.  The workshop explored current and future trends of materials use in buildings construction, possible strategies to improve material efficiency and reduce the impact of material use in construction, and analytical methods for assessing current and future materials demand in the sector.

Target Audience

The meeting brought together leading experts and key stakeholders in materials production and buildings construction from industry and the research community.


IEA analysis objective, scope and timeframe

John Dulac, IEA

Araceli Fernandez, IEA

Session 1: Materials use and manufacturing trends in buildings construction

Moderator: Emmanuel Normant, Saint-Gobain


Resource efficiency in concrete construction: Michael Scharpf, LafargeHolcim  

Circular economy for steel in construction: Henk Reimink, World Steel Association

Pathways to reduce the material impact in construction: Thomas Matschei, HTW Dresden

Current status and reduction potential for materials use in buildings construction in China: Da Yan, Tsinghua University 

Efficient use of materials in building design: Catherine De Wolf, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  

Session 2: Resource efficiency and product value chains optimisation in the iron & steel industry

Moderator: Kate Simonen, University of Washington