MEPs advocate boost in building renovations amid climate push 

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In a vote on Wednesday, MEPs proposed measures to improve energy performance of buildings to help the sector deliver emission reductions and contribute to EU climate goals.

The non-binding report adopted with 526 votes to 109, and 62 abstentions sets out recommendations ahead of the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings directive (EPBD) which aims to boost the improvement of the existing building stock. The EPBD is crucial to delivering successfully on the Renovation wave and emissions reduction, they say. Member States should implement the Directive fully and the Commission should monitor the situation and take action, where necessary.


MEPs recall the importance of putting in place adequate incentives for the renovation of buildings as well as financial measures conditional on energy efficiency improvements and energy savings. They highlight the importance of clear and accurate information on energy performance and energy costs for prospective buyers and prospective tenants. They call for improving Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) across EU Member States.


MEPs believe that the revision of the EPBD should serve to further promote smart buildings technologies and foster a data-centric approach. They believe it will be important to create a framework to leverage the use of data to improve transparency, develop benchmarks and guide policy decisions as well as reduce actual energy consumption.


A labelling system for construction materials


MEPs also support the use of sustainable, innovative and non-toxic construction materials as well as strengthening the circularity of building materials and propose a labelling system. Wood-based materials can also play a role in substituting fossil-based ones in buildings due to their long-term carbon storage potential, they say.


They recall that Long Term Renovation Strategies, which are set out by Member States under the directive, should in future also include the wider benefits of renovations like health, safety, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Member States should also improve data collection on indoor environmental quality parameters, with a view to developing minimum quality standards.


The EPBD should ensure that renovation delivers return on investment for homeowners and building owners by establishing real and measured improvements in energy performance. One-stop shops can play a big role in addressing the issue of long and cumbersome permitting procedures as well as fostering access to funding for building renovation.


Quote


“With the “Fit for 55” package, the EU is undergoing an ambitious systemic shift in how we produce, consume and store energy. It’s clear that any successful climate strategy must centrally consider both residential and commercial buildings, considering energy, water, indoor air quality, materials selection and location" said lead MEP Sean Kelly (EPP, IE).


"Renovation of building stock within the EU is not only a priority due to the potential to reduce CO2 emissions, but also to drive sustainable growth and job creation. Yet, the current renovation rate is around 1 % per year, which is much lower than it needs to be, therefore we must make sure that every new build has high environmental standards so we do not also have to renovate them also" he said.


"These issues are central to the revised EPBD, therefore I was happy to see my report on this topic receive overwhelming support in Plenary to send a strong signal to the Commission and Council" he added.


“Extending and upskilling the workforce will be critical to deliver the building transition. Member States should provide a clear link between their national Long Term Renovation Strategies and adequate initiatives to promote skills and education in the construction and energy efficiency sectors. This will be important for Fit for 55 more broadly.”


“Today we seen the Commission’s proposal for a revised EPBD. It includes some positive aspects such as the roadmap for Minimum Energy Performance Standards for all buildings to meet higher energy performance classes. These will be essential to increase renovation rates and ensure one of worst-performing buildings are addressed, which of course will help alleviating reliance on fossil fuels, and in turn energy poverty” he said.


“There is a lot of discussions ahead in this area, but today’s proposal by the Commission provides a good platform, but I would like to see Parliament take a strong position to improve the text were needed” he concluded.



Background


Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption making them the largest energy consumer in Europe. Currently 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years and severely inefficient. In addition, only about 1% of the building stock is renovated each year. Renovation of existing buildings can help significantly reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lower CO2 emissions by about 5%.


According to the European Commission, in EU households, heating and hot water alone account for 79% of total final energy use.