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To prevent the global temperature from rising by more than 2°C above the level of the pre-industrial era, all developed countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The European Union has already promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and to generate 20% of its energy from sustainable sources. If the European Union is prepared to reduce emissions by as much as 30%, it is on course to reduce emissions by 80-95% in 2050.

The City of Ghent has resolved to take a different approach, and seeks to promote economic sites that are energy-efficient, easily accessible and carefully manage natural resources and the increasingly scarce space. Among other things, these ambitions fit into the Local Climate Plan developed by the city in 2008 to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020. This plan consists of 105 actions to achieve a climate-neutral city by 2050. A new climate plan is currently being prepared, which will be ready in 2013-2014.
To achieve this objective, the sustainability meter for economic sites has been developed. The various steps to be taken to ensure a sustainable project are clearly set out in this compendium. Sustainability and sustainable building are clearly defined and given concrete form.

The sustainability meter for economic sites of the City of Ghent described here should result in forward-looking pilot projects.

Sustainability meter