Author: Frédéric Simon
The European Commission launched a renovation wave and a “new European Bauhaus” on Wednesday (14 October), aiming to rally popular support behind plans to cut emissions from buildings and reduce energy bills.
Three-quarters of Europe’s buildings are energy inefficient by modern standards and many are heated using fossil fuels. They are responsible for more than a third of EU carbon dioxide emissions and making them more efficient is a key part of the EU’s plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The Commission plans to double the EU’s annual rate of energy-related building renovations, which is currently just 1%, upgrading 35 million buildings by 2030.
“It’s not easy. It’s not just throwing money at it, we need to get the right regulation in place,” Frans Timmermans, Commission executive vice president for the European Green Deal, said on Wednesday.
Funding should prioritise renovations that tackle energy poverty to support the 34 million Europeans struggling to pay heating bills, the Commission said. Other focus areas are public buildings and polluting heating systems.
Upgrading social housing alone would require an extra €57 billion in annual investment, and EU support will come from a €672.5 billion section of its massive coronavirus economic recovery fund.
Further cash could come from carbon market revenues, while the European Investment Bank will back technical support for projects. The Commission will also rewrite state aid rules, allowing governments to boost national funding.
Central to the EU plan will be binding minimum energy performance standards for all existing buildings in Europe. The Commission will propose the standards next year, outlining the date for them to be introduced and the level of energy savings each building must achieve.
This would push building owners, such as commercial landlords, to meet the standard in order to rent a property.
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