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A Green Deal that works for everyone – Making the renovation wave a reality

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The European Commission’s announced renovation wave offers an opportunity to bring the EU back on track when it comes to energy efficiency measures in buildings, write Marion Santini and Jan Rosenow.

Marion Santini is a researcher at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organisation dedicated to accelerating the transition to a clean, reliable, and efficient energy future.  Jan Rosenow is Principal and European Programme Director at RAP.

European leaders agreed in December that Europe would adopt a net-zero emission target for 2050 which would be put into legislation in March of this year. The European Commission issued a list of initiatives to respond to the ambitious goal of reaching carbon neutrality for all. This includes a "renovation wave" whose details will be clarified at the end of 2020.


Ensuring that this renovation wave reaches all EU Member States is a key factor of the energy transition and it could have the potetial of halving EU´s energy demand by 2050. However, a recent report by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) shows that energy efficiency progress has slowed, particularly in the buildings sector. Hence, ambitious policies are needed in building fabric and space heating efficiency. Three key elements should be implemented:


  • decision–makers and stakeholders can look to successful and replicable renovation projects and programmes to assess how technical assistance can be ramped up and streamlined;
  • the renovation wave initiative should create synergies among different pieces of climate and energy legislation (e.g. EU Emissions Trading Scheme);
  • achieving the promised renovation wave will require new policies in order to drive demand for building retrofits. Two policies stand out in this regard: reformed property transfer taxes and minimum energy performance standards.

A consolidated effort by the European institutions and the Member States is required in order to implement all these actions. If successful, it will deliver substantial benefits to citizens and make the Green Deal work for everyone across the EU.


Read the full opinion piece here.