In the COVID-19 aftermath, making our buildings energy efficient is key to reconcile Europe’s climate objectives with rapid economic recovery. To get this done we need an ambitious policy roadmap at EU level, write Bertrand Deprez and Mohammed Chahim.
Bertrand Deprez is Vice-Chair of the board of the European Alliance to Save Energy & Mohammed Chahim, Member of the European Parliament
The European Union is facing a great challenge: how to quickly re-build Europe’s economy in the context of COVID-19 while ensuring to keep itself on the path to become climate neutral by 2050.
Against this background, investing in decarbonising buildings is key to reconcile climate objectives and economic recovery, in a virtuous way. Indeed, the renovation wave is one of the key pillars of the European Green Deal, which should be at the core of the post-COVID-19 recovery plan.
The building sector represents today 7-10% of the workforce in OECD, a major source of employment, hence economic growth and social welfare, with SMEs contributing to more than 70% of the value-added in EU’s building sector. This represents about 18 million direct jobs.
Buildings are where people live and work, and where people spend 95% of their time. Enabling the transition towards buildings of the future could enable new ways to manage energy through local energy communities and ‘prosumers’ (consumers who both consume and produce energy, usually electricity).
Buildings of the future can be at the heart of the green transition in Europe if we manage to combine the principle of energy efficiency first with the deployment of distributed energy resources and the rise of digital technologies. These are the conditions for the ultra-efficient buildings of tomorrow to become the critical pillar of a fully decarbonised energy system.
Achieving that requires adopting a system efficiency approach for our buildings, our urban districts, and our cities. Such an effort would be worthwhile because it could transform our buildings into prosumers and fundamentally change how people, how end-users consume and produce their energy.
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