A refurbished and improved building stock in the EU will help pave the way for a decarbonised and clean energy system, as the building sector is one of the largest energy consumers in Europe, responsible for more than one-third of the EU’s emissions. But only 1% of buildings undergo energy-efficient renovation every year, so effective action is crucial to making Europe climate-neutral by 2050. Currently, roughly 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient, yet almost 85-95% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050.
Renovation of both public and private buildings is an essential measure in this context and has been singled out in the European Green Deal as a key initiative to drive energy efficiency in the sector and deliver on objectives.
Moreover, given the labour-intensive nature of the building sector, which is largely dominated by local businesses, the Commission’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan identified doubling the rate of the renovation as a specific aim for kick-starting the European recovery.
To pursue this ambition of energy gains and economic growth, the Commission published on 14 October 2020 a new strategy to boost renovation called “A Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives“ (COM(2020)662). It aims to double annual energy renovation rates in the next ten years. These renovations will enhance the quality of life for people living in and using the buildings, reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and create up to 160,000 additional green jobs in the construction sector.
With nearly 34 million Europeans unable to afford to keep their home adequately heated, renovation is also an important response to energy poverty. It can address the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people while reducing their energy bills, as outlined in the Commission Recommendation on Energy Poverty (C(2020)9600), which was published as part of the Renovation wave strategy.
In parallel to the strategy, the Commission adopted new rules for the smart readiness of buildings (C(2020)6929-6930). Specifically, the smart readiness indicator aims to promote digitally friendly renovations, integrate renewable energy and enable measurements of actual energy consumption.
The Commission launched, at the same time as the Renovation wave strategy, the initiative on the New European Bauhaus. It will be a driving force, bringing the European Green Deal closer to citizens in an attractive, innovative and human-centred way. It will act as a network and contact point, creating a bridge between the world of science and technology and the world of art and culture.
The renovation wave initiative will build on measures agreed under the Clean Energy for all Europeans package, notably the requirement for each EU country to publish a long-term building renovation strategy (LTRS), other aspects of the amending Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings ((EU) 2018/844), and building-related aspects of each EU country’s national energy and climate plans (NECP).