European Commission - Research


  Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)

Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB)

Energy-efficient buildings (EeB) will consist of a financial envelope of € 1 billion to boost the construction sector, and aims at promoting green technologies and the development of energy efficient systems and materials in new and renovated buildings - this, with a view to radically reducing their energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

The programme will be financed jointly by industry and the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7). The research programme will begin with coordinated calls for research proposals which should be launched in July this year.

Facts and Figures¹

The public-private partnership "Energy-efficient Buildings Initiative" is targeting the construction sector at large. Construction accounts for more that 10 % of the EU's GDP and employs 32 million people in large, medium and small enterprises. There are 2.7 million enterprises in the EU in the construction sector, of which 95 % are SMEs.

There is a stock of 160 million buildings in the EU. The present rate of construction of new buildings is below 2%/year in all major European countries. These figures push the hope of having a truly energy-efficient built environment far beyond one century and probably closer to two centuries if action is limited to new buildings. For that reason focus is needed on the renovation of existing buildings. There is a need to act at a EU level if we want to make a substantial impact. Public buildings will be considered as a priority.

Challenges ahead

The energy consumption of houses and buildings taking into account the whole life cycle is responsible for 40% of total EU energy consumption and is the main contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (about 36% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions and for about half of the CO2 emissions which are not covered by the Emission Trading System). Therefore reducing energy consumption during the whole life-cycle of the buildings is an effective action against climate change and will also contribute to decreasing the EU's energy import dependence.

Having recognized the social and economic impacts of energy savings in construction, the sector is fully aware today of being confronted by a huge responsibility.

In March 2007, the European Council has set clear goals: Reduction of 20% of the total energy consumption; 20% contribution of Renewable energies to total energy production; 20% reduction of Greenhouse gases (GHG) below 1990 emissions.

In this context, the building sector must assume very ambitious objectives of 165 Mtoe (millions of tons of oil equivalent) in energy reduction and contribute with 50 Mtoe from Renewable energies in 2020. To understand the nature of the challenge, these figures are equivalent to the total joint energy consumption of Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland in 2004.

The way forward

The PPP EeB will speed up research on key technologies and develop a competitive industry in the construction sector with the focus on energy-efficient processes, products and services. The main purpose is to reach the goals set forth for 2020 and 2050 to address climate change issues and contribute to improving EU energy security of supply, thereby transforming this challenge into a business opportunity. Specific attention will be given to the development and integration of design and simulation tools, new materials, building systems and equipment and ICT for energy efficiency. Main R&D priorities could focus on:

  • Energy efficiency in buildings and districts while improving the quality of life (comfort and indoor environment) of citizens.
  • Development of ICTs for energy-smart buildings and districts, and integration of Renewable Energy Systems in buildings and districts.
  • Use of nanotechnologies, materials, components, systems, construction processes and their integration into energy-efficient buildings.
  • Large scale demonstration actions will integrate and demonstrate innovative technologies in their final phase of development.
  • Industrialisation of products and components contributing to the Energy Efficiency of Buildings, such as phase-change materials, insulation materials, smart windows and facades.
  • Adaptation of design processes, finding adequate financing, initiating new commissioning procedures, tackling behavioural issues, ensuring knowledge transfer.
  • EeB will benefit from the integration into buildings and districts of the latest technologies coming out of long-term research on Renewable Energy Systems and other clean technologies such as fuel cells being funded under other initiatives.

Next steps

In order to guarantee a quick start, we will make use of existing instruments. The Commission should launch cross-thematic calls for research proposals from the FP7 thematic areas "Nanotechnologies, Materials and Production technologies", Environment, Energy and ICT in July 2009. A multi-annual work programme will be developed together with the industry.

For the construction sector, complementary actions with existing activities done by Member States will be sought. For instance, an ERANET² "ERACOBUILD" has recently been established. which involves 21 Member States and focuses on sustainable renovation of buildings and value-driven construction processes.

¹All figures come from:

²An ERA Net is a scheme dedicated to support the coordination and networking of national and regional research programmes from different EU Member states and FP7 Associated countries