Renovation wave initiative in the buildings sector

In “A European Green Deal”

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Buildings are responsible for 40 % of the EU's energy consumption and 36% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Only 1 % of buildings in the EU are renovated each year but a much faster rate of renovation is necessary to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the long-term goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. In her 2020 State of the Union address, Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen indicated that the renovation wave would be a core feature of the Next Generation EU economic recovery plan. In addition, the Commission President proposed to set up a new European Bauhaus as a co-creation space to provide a distinct aesthetic in building renovations that matches style with sustainability.

On 14 October 2020 the European Commission published its Renovation Wave Strategy, which aims to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency. The Commission foresees that by 2030, 35 million buildings could be renovated and up to 160 000 additional green jobs created in the construction sector.

The Commission's strategy includes the following key actions:

  • Stronger regulations, standards and information on the energy performance of buildings to set better incentives for public and private sector renovations, including a phased introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings, updated rules for Energy Performance Certificates, and a possible extension of building renovation requirements for the public sector. These will be considered in the proposed revisions of both the energy efficiency directive and the energy performance of buildings directive in 2021.
  • More accessible and well-targeted funding, including through the ‘Renovate' and ‘Power Up' Flagships in the Recovery and Resilience Facility (NextGenerationEU), together with simplified rules for combining different funding streams, and multiple incentives for private financing.
  • Increasing capacity to prepare and implement renovation projects, from technical assistance to national and local authorities through to training and skills development for workers in new green jobs.
  • Expanding the market for sustainable construction products and services, including the integration of new materials and nature-based solutions, and revised legislation on marketing of construction products and material reuse and recovery targets.
  • Creating a New European Bauhaus, an interdisciplinary project co-steered by an advisory board of external experts including scientists, architects, designers, artists, planners and civil society. From now until summer 2021 the Commission will conduct a broad participatory co-creation process, and will then set up a network of five founding Bauhaus in 2022 in different EU countries.
  • Developing neighbourhood-based approaches for local communities to integrate renewable and digital solutions and create zero-energy districts, where consumers become prosumers selling energy to the grid. The strategy also includes an Affordable Housing Initiative for 100 districts, and was released at the same time as a Commission recommendation on how to tackle energy poverty.
  • Promoting the decarbonisation of heating and cooling, which is responsible for 80 % of energy consumed in residential buildings, in particular through revisions of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives and the EU ETS in 2021, as well as making full use of the existing provisions of the Ecodesign Framework Directive.

On 17 September 2020 the European Parliament adopted an own-initiative resolution on maximising the energy efficiency potential of the EU building stock, which addressed many of these issues.

On 11 June 2021 the Council of energy ministers approved conclusions that endorsed the EU renovation wave strategy.

On 15 December 2021, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in a way that would support the European Green Deal and the Renovation Wave strategy. 


Further reading:

Author: Monika Dulian, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/03/2024.