Recommendations to shape the decade of buildings renovations

Reducing energy demand and increasing energy efficiency in the buildings sector is a prerequisite for achieving the EU’s energy and climate objectives. This position paper calls on the European Commission to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), aligning its objectives with the European Green Deal.

The revision of the EPBD is a unique opportunity to increase energy savings, optimise energy consumption and reduce GHG emissions from the buildings sector.

In this respect, the EPBD should introduce new policy signals to stimulate a minimum of a 3% renovation rate per year combined with an average energy efficiency improvement of 75% across Europe. This will help the EU to reach its environmental goals while contributing to fast economic recovery, local job creation and delivering of multiple benefits to citizens.

Currently, building renovations occur at a slow pace in the European Union. Only 1% of the total building stock undergoes renovations annually, an insufficient rate to make buildings fit for the EU’s climate goals. To achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, the decade 2020-2030 must be the witness of an unprecedented wave of renovations resulting in emissions cuts from buildings by 60% by 2030.

The paper presents seven recommendations aimed to:

  1. Acknowledge buildings as energy infrastructure and apply the Energy Efficiency First principle
  2. Phase in Minimum Energy Performance Standards for all the existing building stock
  3. Aim for energy efficient, flexible, and smart-ready buildings
  4. Promote a neighbourhood approach to maximise energy efficiency
  5. Update the Energy Performance Certificates, introduce digital Building Renovation Passports and explore the link with the Digital Building Logbook
  6. Provide more and better technical assistance and build capacity to increase the demand of renovation projects
  7. Ensure all new buildings are both highly efficient and fossil free from 2025 onwards

 

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Boosting energy efficiency through the revision of State Aid rules

The European Commission should revise EU State Aid rules so they can help boost energy efficiency across Europe.

To ensure that the energy markets are fair, flexible, and secure, the EU State Aid rules must address investment gaps by providing enabling conditions for attracting private investment. This is politically relevant considering the context of the Renovation Wave Strategy, which calls for doubling annual energy renovation rates, and considering the investments in energy efficiency improvements required to contribute to the decarbonisation of the industrial sector.

The European Commission recently announced the plan to revise the Energy and Environmental Aid Guidelines (EEAG) and the General Block Exemption Regulation (GEBR) to provide an enabling framework for public authorities to support high-quality renovation while making the most efficient use of limited public funds.

Pending the revision, the Commission announced in the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan and European Green Deal Investment Plan that the current State Aid rules will be applied with the flexibility to support an increase in the rate and depth of energy efficiency improvements, stressing that aid to energy efficiency investments would be simplified and enhanced.

While we support more flexibility in the short-term, we call on the Commission to also seize this moment to:

  • Decisively create a level playing field for energy efficiency investments;
  • Address the overall complexity by simplifying requirements on eligible costs; and
  • Provide clear guidance on the current EU State Aid rules for energy efficiency.

 

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The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive to fully realise water and energy savings (updated)

Overall, the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) has played a substantial role in improving the quality of European water resources and reducing pollution levels in water bodies. However, Europe remains some way from full compliance with collection and treatment requirements and has made little progress with water reuse. We believe the 28-year-old Directive should be updated to better address these critical issues and today’s challenges including climate change, resource scarcity, increased energy consumption and population growth.

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Decarbonising the building and heating sectors: considerations on carbon pricing

Energy efficiency should be the starting point for all decarbonisation efforts. Carbon pricing can play a role in this, as it can provide incentives for the fuel switch and to some extent for energy efficiency investments. Yet, it should not replace impactful regulatory measures in the building sector driving the energy savings necessary to meet climate neutrality.

 

We believe carbon pricing in the building sector can only work effectively and efficiently if:

  • Its modalities are thoroughly assessed to gauge its potential benefits for the building sector
  • It is part of a well-designed broader policy mix
  • It includes a resilient mechanism for reinvesting its revenues to prevent and reduce energy poverty

 

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Water-energy nexus and energy saving obligations: industry success stories

This paper showcases concrete examples of water and energy saving projects across sectors and European countries. These feature some of the most advanced environmental technologies currently available on the market, allowing to deliver environmental, economic and social benefits.

Water and energy are deeply entwined. The water-energy nexus refers to the relationship between how much energy is needed for abstracting, moving, heating, cooling, storing, treating and disposing water and how much water is used for generation and transmission of energy.

This nexus is expected to intensify in the coming years. So far, Member States have notified a limited set of water-related measures in the framework of Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). The most frequently notified measure is the production of hot water by solar collectors or more efficient gas water heaters. However, these measures rather relate to heat generation than water production, distribution, use, and wastewater treatment.

Raising awareness about the energy-water nexus can help:

  • Member States prioritise efficient use of both water and energy;
  • the business community to bring to market technologies and solutions designed to deliver water and energy savings across industries, municipalities and buildings; and
  • the EU to deliver the energy savings and emission reductions necessary to achieve the ambitious goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

 

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