It’s time to tap the great potential of digital solutions to decarbonise our buildings

Digital solutions are essential to the rapid decarbonisation of buildings and could contribute significantly to achieving the 1.5°C pathway. Often underestimated, it is now time to embrace this new set of technologies. In other words: crack modern problems with modern solutions. Not only does digital bring significant carbon reduction, but it also comes with very competitive paybacks and shows significant future potential. Digital technologies focus on the actual energy use of building occupants, resulting in faster paybacks, on average less than eight years (for tertiary buildings on average less than five years). Also, digital efficiency solutions bring 20-30 percent carbon abatement across the building stock. But most importantly, this toolbox of digital solutions is already available, quickly deployable, and is applicable across all the current building stock. The potential carbon abatement of digital solutions – around 1 Gt CO2/y (1) – in the building stock is thus highly underestimated.

The EU set itself the ambitious target of becoming the first climate-neutral continent in 2050. To achieve this goal, the penetration of digital efficiency solutions is ultimately inevitable. The real question, given their multiple benefits, is not to qualify the need for such technologies, but how to create the right framework to accelerate their deployment across the board rapidly.

 

Bertrand Deprez
Vice President EU Government Affairs
Schneider Electric

 

(1) IEA 2021 Net Zero scenario and under the assumption that 2/3 of the existing stock is still standing by 2050, new build is zero-carbon, all additional electricity demand (for the new stock) is zero-carbon and 100 percent digital technologies penetration.

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Making the Energy Efficiency Directive fit for 55%

Following the adoption of the Climate Law and in view of its higher climate ambition for 2030 and 2050, the European Commission proposed to revise the Energy Efficiency Directive. Energy efficiency must become the bedrock of a decarbonised energy system.

Amending the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is the starting point for the Union to deliver on the necessary reduction of energy demand, to define and operationalise the Energy Efficiency First principle and to set the right policy mechanisms that would address the overall efficiency of the energy supply chain. These are the necessary conditions to achieve a highly efficient and renewable-based energy system in view of the full decarbonisation of our economy.

This paper contains the recommendations of the European Alliance to Save Energy to help making the EED fit for 55% and set the longer track to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

The recommendations touch upon:

  • Energy efficiency targets for increased ambition
  • Public sector leading by example
  • Expanding the scope to all public and private non-residential buildings
  • Public procurement
  • Align the Energy Savings Obligation with 2030 and 2050 ambition
  • Energy audits and management systems
  • Energy efficiency in Heating and Cooling
  • Demand response and efficiency in transformation and distribution networks
  • Availability of qualification, accreditation and certification schemes
  • Information and training
  • Energy services market
  • Energy efficiency national funds and other support mechanisms
  • Primary Energy Factor

Read the full paper

 

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Letter in Financial Times: Renovating buildings will help reduce energy bills

On 9 November the Financial Times published in its print edition a letter by the president of the European Alliance to Save Energy, Monica Frassoni.

Stepping up building energy renovations offers a solution to the issue of soaring energy bills, yet this is overlooked by decision makers, the letter says.

Today, which energy efficient technologies, it is possible to reduce buildings’ energy needs for heating and cooling by 60%. Still the average renovation rate of the EU’s building stock remains under 1% per year.

With over 34m people living in energy poverty, we are playing with fire, the letter continues. Energy efficiency is a rational, cost-effective and systemic solution for the energy price surge.

Read the full letter here

The letter can also be found on the FT website.

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Interview with Debating Europe

EU-ASE president Monica Frassoni was interviewed by Debating Europe as part of the debate How can we make Europe’s buildings more energy-efficient?, organised in cooperation with the Climate Pact. During the interview, she replied to the questions sent by European citizens on the topic.

Watch the debate How can we make Europe’s buildings more energy efficient?

Debating Europe is a project of Friends of Europe. It hosts a successful online discussion platform based on a simple model: citizens ask questions, policymakers and experts respond. Since launching, it has built a 6 million strong community of citizens and a social media following of over 271,000 people from across Europe. To date, a selection of 180,000 questions has been put to over 3000 key policymakers and experts.

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A three-step recipe to transform our buildings | EUSEW 2021

by Bertrand Deprez, Vice-President EU Government Affairs at Schneider Electric and board member of the European Alliance to Save Energy, & Céline Carré, Head of European Public Affairs at Saint-Gobain, a member of the European Alliance to Save Energy.

This is no secret: with more than 38% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, buildings represent one of the largest bulk of decarbonisation. And with 40% of energy consumption, they can even lead the energy efficiency race. However, so far, the efforts deployed at the European and national levels to accelerate the renovation of the buildings stock have not been sufficient to drive their long-term decarbonisation. If we want this to change, and to make highly efficient buildings in a fully decarbonised and connected energy system a reality, three levers should be activated simultaneously.

First, aligning hearts and minds around the unique contribution of buildings can happen via the joint revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Energy Efficiency Directive and Renewable Energy Directive. The Renovation Wave strategy has set the direction, but specific milestones and acceleration points now need to take shape. Among those are minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) on existing buildings, a tool to drive demand for renovation. Such MEPS should be deployed for first movers segments, such as non-residential and worst-performing residential buildings particularly affected by soaring energy prices. Then, new and existing buildings should be made fit for our 2050 carbon neutrality goals. In this journey, better accounting for reflecting emissions reduction potentials from new buildings and major renovations, on top of energy savings, will also help coordinate and align actions, especially when it comes to boosting the uptake of both energy efficiency measures and renewables, such as directly electrified solutions powered by renewables.

Second, unleashing new business models to finance and roll out renovations will ensure that the ambition is fulfilled. Deploying renovation and recovery is a combined challenge of preparedness and speed. The construction sector is getting ready with new approaches enabling to renovate faster and better. We need more innovators and integrators to plug these new business models together with available finance. The implementation of the post Covid-19 national recovery plans is a unique opportunity to fill the gap in this field.

Read the full article on the EUSEW 2021 blog

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