The European Green Deal must be central to the recovery programme needed to transition out of the crisis caused by COVID-19, writes Oliver Rapf. And the European Commission’s upcoming building renovation wave should be at the centre of it, he argues.
Oliver Rapf is executive director at the Building Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), a not-for-profit think tank supporting evidence-based policy making in the field of energy performance in buildings.
As Europeans are forced to stay home for weeks to come, they are experiencing their homes in a much-intensified way. The psychological impacts of the confinement will be experienced by everyone. Many will suffer not only because of a lack of face-to-face and close interaction with friends, families and colleagues, but also because their homes are not supporting them with a healthy and comfortable environment.
Last December, the European Commission published its new economic growth strategy, the European Green Deal. The implementation of its growth measures is needed now more than ever. One of its key elements was the launch of a so-called renovation wave.
The Green Deal recognised that our buildings infrastructure needs an urgent upgrade, not only to fight climate change but also to lift millions of Europeans out of energy poverty and to ensure that buildings provide a healthy and affordable living and working environment.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us through an intensive course in crisis management and adaptation. Once we will have defeated the pandemic, we will need strong and sustainable recovery measures. In fact, the Green Deal must be central to the recovery programme needed to transition out of the crisis caused by COVID-19.
Well-designed recovery measures should not be biased towards the pre-crisis economic model but should use the opportunity to stimulate growth in measures which will help us tackle the climate and housing challenges with a much stronger commitment.
A European renovation wave should not focus on saving energy alone. In fact, we need to give our buildings a much more humane architecture which fulfills our need for sustainable and human-centric places. Renovations can turn buildings into beacons of hope and health, with long lasting positive effects for society. This is what our society needs after this dramatic crisis.
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