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Special report | Energy efficiency in buildings: greater focus on cost-effectiveness still needed

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Photo by Ján Jakub Naništa on Unsplash

Faced with the challenge of mitigating climate change, EU leaders have committed to saving 20 % of the EU Member States’ projected energy consumption by 2020 and 32.5 % by 2030. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is a key tool to achieving these targets. Buildings consume the greatest share of energy and have the largest energy savings potential.

The latest assessment of the progress made by Member States towards the energy efficiency targets shows that the EU 2020 target is unlikely to be met, as EU energy consumption is rising again since 2014. We aim to issue recommendations that should help the EU to achieve its 2030 energy efficiency target by improving the cost-effectiveness of its 2021-2027 Cohesion policy spending.


The report assesses whether EU co-funded energy efficiency investments in buildings had cost-effectively helped the EU toward its 2020 energy saving target. It concludes that the operational programmes and the project selection were not driven by a cost-effectiveness rationale. While Member States required buildings to be renovated to save a minimum of energy and improve their energy rating, this sometimes happened at a high cost. Because of a lack of comparative assessment of project merits and of minimum/maximum thresholds for cost-effectiveness, projects delivering higher energy savings or other benefits at lower cost were not prioritised. We recommend improving the planning, selection and monitoring of the investments to improve the cost-effectiveness of the spending.