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Energy performance in buildings is key to meeting 2030 emissions target

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Ursula von der Leyen and Frans Timmermans have pledged to kick-start a renovation wave across Europe. This is a management challenge with three aspects that have to be met, write building industry CEOs.

Fine words renovate no building. But President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech was a political knockout. The bottom line: the European Union cannot meet 55% by 2030 emissions reduction target without at least doubling building renovation rates. That is why the green recovery needs to start at home, literally.


Per euro invested, the buildings sector is Europe’s biggest job creator. At the same time, real estate is our most valuable financial asset, worth tens of trillions of euros. Yet even as the COVID-19 crisis continues, one in four households cannot pay their energy bills. The stakes are high indeed.


That is why Ms von der Leyen and her right-hand man on the Green Deal, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, have pledged to kick-start a Renovation Wave across Europe. A ‘ways and means’ Commission action plan is due in October.


We believe it must focus on three mutually supportive strands of work: legislation (in next year’s revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive), finance and project support.


First, legislation: the EU already has world-class energy efficiency standards for new buildings. The Renovation Wave needs to outline a strategy to guarantee high standards for the hundreds of millions of Europeans living and working in existing buildings.


So-called minimum energy performance requirements look like the best solution. They are already standard practice in some member states, where they go hand in hand with financial and technical support.


In the Netherlands, for example, offices must be energy performance Class C by 2023, otherwise they cannot be leased out. Meanwhile, the country’s two million social housing units are on track to be B standard by next year.


Read the full opinion article here.