Refurbished and sustainable buildings in the EU will help pave the way for a decarbonised and clean energy system, since buildings are one of the largest sources of energy consumption in Europe, responsible for over a third of EU emissions. But only 1% of buildings undergo energy-efficient renovation every year, so effective action is crucial to making Europe climate-neutral (net zero emissions) by 2050.
Currently, roughly 75% of buildings in the EU are not energy efficient, yet 85-95% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050.
Renovating both public and private buildings is an essential action, 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.
Given the labour-intensive nature of the construction sector, which is largely dominated by local businesses, building renovations can also play a crucial role in European economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. To kick-start the recovery, the Commission’s recovery plan intends to further support renovations for EU buildings.
A renovation wave for Europe
To pursue this dual ambition of energy gains and economic growth, in 2020 the Commission published a new strategy to boost renovation called "A Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives".
This strategy aims to double annual energy renovation rates in the next 10 years. As well as reducing emissions, these renovations will enhance quality of life for people living in and using the buildings, and should create many additional green jobs in the construction sector.
With nearly 34 million Europeans unable to afford to heat their homes properly, renovation also tackles energy poverty. It can address the health and well-being of vulnerable people while reducing their energy bills – as outlined in the Commission recommendation on energy poverty, also part of the renovation wave strategy.
In parallel to the strategy, the Commission has adopted new rules for the 'smart readiness of buildings'. Specifically, a new smart-readiness indicator aims to promote digital-friendly renovation, integrate renewable energy and enable measurement of actual energy consumption.
At the same time, the Commission launched the New European Bauhaus. It will provide a forum where Europeans can come together to share ideas on climate-friendly architecture. It comprises 3 phases: co-design, delivery and dissemination. The design phase was launched in January 2021 and will lead to a series of EU-funded projects later this year to bring design ideas to life in at least 5 different locations across the EU.
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, other aspects of the Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings, and building-related aspects of each EU country’s national energy and climate plans.
- In 2020, the Commission published a roadmap on the initiative, to explain the initiative to the public.
- This was followed by a public consultation. We received responses from 187 major stakeholders, which are summarised in a report.
- Progress was announced in a press release and its accompanying Q&A
- The Commission published its communication strategy and action plan in October 2020, accompanied by a document on support from the EU budget to unlock investment in building renovation.
- This will be discussed by the EU Council, the European Parliament, other EU institutions, civil society and stakeholders, who will provide input.
- The Commission is now focusing on implementing the action plan.
EU building projects
The Commission supports many projects on building renovation, as well as research and innovation in this field, with its Horizon Europe research programmes.
- the BUILD UP initiative, a portal for sharing knowledge on how to make buildings more energy-efficient
- the BUILD UP Skills initiative, which aims to increase the number of qualified building professionals across Europe who can carry out building renovations that offer high energy performance as well as construct new near zero-energy buildings
- the 4RinEU project, which aims to provide new tools and strategies to encourage large-scale renovation of existing buildings and promoting the use of renewable energies (see “Home improvements for the planet”)
For more EU-funded energy efficiency projects, visit the Horizon 2020 energy efficiency data hub.
- Renovation wave communication COM 2020 662 final | Staff working document SWD(2020) 550 final
- Energy poverty recommendation (EU)2020/1563| Staff working document SWD(2020)960 final
- Implementing regulation on optional scheme for rating smart readiness of buildings C(2020) 6929 | Annex
- Delegated regulation on optional scheme for rating smart readiness of buildings C(2020) 6930 | Annex
- Factsheet – The European Green Deal – Renovation wave (2020)
- Report – Stakeholder consultation on the renovation wave initiative (2020)
- Amending Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2018/844/EU)
- Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU)