A Renovation Wave for Europe

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Informationsvermerk: A Renovation Wave for Europe

Administrator: Agota BAZSIK, Assistant: Gaetano FOSSO

Foreseen for the EESC Section: 11 February 2021

Foreseen for the EESC Plenary session: 24-25 February 2021

Gist of the Commission document

As Europe seeks to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, renovation offers a unique opportunity to rethink, redesign and modernise buildings to make them fit for a greener and digital society and sustain economic recovery. The Commission has proposed in the Climate Target Plan 2030 to cut net greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. It is therefore urgent for the EU to focus on how to make buildings more energy-efficient, less carbon-intensive over their full life-cycle and more sustainable. Applying circularity principles to building renovation will reduce materials-related greenhouse gas emissions for buildings. Renovation can open up numerous possibilities and generate far-reaching social, environmental and economic benefits.

The objective is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of residential and non-residential buildings by 2030 and to foster deep energy renovation, resulting in 35 million building units renovated by 2030. With nearly 34 million Europeans unable to afford keeping their homes heated, public policies to promote energy efficient renovation are also a response to energy poverty, support the health and wellbeing of citizens and help reduce their energy bills. The Commission has also published a Recommendation for Member States on tackling energy poverty.

Investing in buildings can also inject a much-needed stimulus in the construction ecosystem and the broader economy. Renovation works are labour-intensive, create jobs and investments rooted in often local supply chains, can generate demand for highly energy and resource-efficient equipment and bring long-term value to properties.

The Communication stipulates that the EU must adopt an encompassing and integrated strategy involving a wide range of sectors and actors on the basis of the following key principles:

-energy efficiency; as a horizontal guiding principle to make sure we only produce the energy we really need;

-affordability, making energy-performing and sustainable buildings widely available, in particular for medium and lower-income households and vulnerable people and areas;

-building renovation should speed up the integration of renewables in particular from local sources, and promote broader use of waste heat. It should integrate energy systems at local and regional levels helping to decarbonise transport as well as heating and cooling;

-life-cycle thinking and circularity; ensuring high air quality, good water management, disaster prevention and protection against climate-related hazards, removal of and protection against harmful substances, fire and seismic safety. Furthermore, accessibility should be ensured;

-smart buildings can enable efficient production and use of renewables at house, district or city level;

-renovation must respect design, craftsmanship, heritage and public space conservation principles.