Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, making them the single largest energy consumer in Europe.
At present, about 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years old and almost 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient. At the same time, only 0.4-1.2% (depending on the country) of the building stock is renovated each year. Renovation of existing buildings can therefore lead to significant energy savings and play a key role in the clean energy transition, as it could reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lower CO2 emissions by about 5%.
In addition to energy efficiency gains, a renovated building stock can also:
- create economic, social and environmental benefits;
- contribute to the improved health, comfort and wellbeing of their residents by reducing respiratory and other illnesses caused by a poor indoor climate;
- make homes more affordable and help households escape energy poverty.
Investments in energy efficiency also stimulates the economy, especially the construction industry, which generates about 9% of Europe’s GDP and directly accounts for 18 million direct jobs. SMEs in particular benefits from a boosted renovation market, as they contribute more than 70% of the value added in the EU building sector.
Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD)
To boost energy performance of buildings the EU has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) (2010/31/EU) and the Energy efficiency directive (2012/27/EU).
Both directives were recently amended as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package. Together, the directives promote policies that will help achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050, create a stable environment for investment decisions to be taken and that will enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices for saving energy and money.
The Energy performance of buildings directive includes speficic provisions and measures to support national governments and take stock of their progress.
EU Building Stock Observatory
The Building Stock Observatory was established in 2016 and aims to provide the European Commission, policy-makers, investors, stakeholders, local and national authorities and researchers with comprehensive knowledge on Europe’s building stock.
BSO contains a database, a data mapper and factsheets for monitoring and statistics on the energy performance of buildings across Europe.
Nearly zero-energy buildings
The Energy performance of buildings directive requires that all new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) as of 31 December 2020. The low amount of energy that NZEB require comes mostly from renewable energy sources.
Certificates and inspections
Energy performance certificates provide consumers with information on the buildings they plan to purchase or rent, including an overall rating and recommendations for cost-effective improvements.
Under the Energy performance of buildings directive, all EU countries have established independent control systems for energy performance certificates and inspection reports for heating and cooling systems.
EU countries can set up support mechanisms to help finance renovations that make buildings energy efficient.
Under the Energy performance of buildings directive, EU countries can provide a list of national measures for funding opportunities; these are updated every three years and can also be found in the national energy efficiency action plans.
Long-term renovation strategies
EU countries have, since 2014, had to submit long-term renovation strategies (LTRS) that foster investments in the renovation of buildings. These strategies will as of 2019 form a key part of EU countries’ integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs), which have to be submitted every 10 years.