The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.

OVERVIEW | Clean Energy for all Europeans: Focus on Renovation Case Studies

Share this Post:
OVERVIEW – Clean Energy for all Europeans: Focus on Renovation Case Studies

Renovated multi-family house block in Munich ©GWGMünchen

by Heike Erhorn-Kluttig (Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics)


The European Commission’s package of legislative proposals “Clean Energy for all Europeans”, which was published at the end of 2016, pursues three main goals: (a) putting energy efficiency first, (b) achieving global leadership in renewable energy and (c) providing a fair deal for consumers. In all three areas buildings play a major role as they use 40% of the EU’s total energy. 75% of the building stock is considered insufficient. With today’s rate of renovating about 1% of buildings each year it would take 100 years to upgrade the building stock to modern, nearly-zero energy buildings (NZEB). That’s why the acceleration of energy efficient building renovation is one of the key strategies presented in the Commission's proposals. This overview article presents the foreseen actions in this field and shows how information on the BUILD UP portal, in particular case studies, supports overcoming the identified barriers for renovation. 



Clean energy for all Europeans: What’s in regarding building renovation?


In the communication document and the Annex I “Accelerating clean energy in buildings”, the European Commission summarises the main barriers for energy saving investments. These include competition for scarce capital, a lack of trustworthy information, a lack of skilled workers and doubts among parts of the wider public on the possible benefits. In the ideal situation consumers should be empowered to choose the most efficient solutions relying on transparent, clear and timely information on consumption and related costs when renovating their homes. Public authorities should have the possibility to access attractive financing solutions and to benefit from innovative energy services such as energy performance contracting when refurbishing public buildings. The proposed revisions of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) seek to put in place a sound regulatory framework including provisions on long-term building renovation strategies.


The question of financing is addressed in the Investment Plan for Europe which includes the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) 2.0, as well as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). Public funding is to be maximised by the development of sustainable energy financing models, energy performance contracting, assisting public fund managers with structuring and deployment of financial instruments and a template for increasing the share of financial instruments under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds. Project development is assisted by EU-level facilities such as ELENA, and Member States are encouraged to develop local or regional one-stop-shops, covering the whole customer journey from information, technical assistance, structuring and provision of financial support to the monitoring of savings. The De-risking Energy Efficiency Platform (DEEP), an open-source database and the cooperation of the Commission with different stakeholders on a consensual framework for the underwriting of sustainable energy building investments, aim to fulfil investors’ need to better understand the real risks and benefits of sustainable energy building investments.


The Commission has launched the EU Building Stock Observatory to collect relevant information regarding EU buildings and energy renovation, such as the energy efficiency levels in buildings in the EU Member States, certification schemes in use, available financing for renovation and the energy poverty level across the EU. The construction sector will be supported in tackling the skills challenges under the framework of the Skills Agenda for Europe. Here synergies will be developed with the BUILD UP Skills initiative, especially regarding the upskilling of construction sector workers on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. This also includes digital skills. The development of advanced technological products and processes will be stimulated by the continued support of the contractual private partnership Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB).



BUILD UP’s support for the foreseen EC actions


BUILD UP is Europe's reference portal for energy efficiency in buildings. As such it supports a variety of content including EU policies and publications including the relevant Directives and European Commission communications. It also includes specific sections dealing with financing, case studies and thematic topics of filtered content including those closely linked to building renovation. News, events, webinars, tools, FAQs, links and country facts derived from the work of the EPBD Concerted Action complete the available information on the portal.  BUILD UP features a specific collection of national financing schemes for the renovation of residential buildings and of national and regional schemes for municipalities, social housing, companies and enterprises. The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) has recently organised a workshop on financing energy efficiency in Central Europe for which the presentations are available on the BUILD UP portal. BUILD UP also supports the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2017 (EUSEW 2017) with focus on “Clean Energy for all Europeans” by offering various information on the planned events, including its own guide to buildings-related sessions organised by BUILD UP Partners.



Building renovation cases on BUILD UP


The lack of trustworthy information and doubts on the possible benefits of energy efficient renovation have been identified as important barriers for an increased renovation rate. BUILD UP contains currently some 728 case studies of energy efficient buildings. Many of them present renovation projects which focus on energy savings and the use of renewable energy sources. Some of the latest and most interesting examples are outlined here.



Zaramaga - social housing renovation challenge in sustainability


The social housing block with 30 apartments was built in the 1950’s in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The award winning renovation included measures at the building envelope, the building services systems and the accessibility. The façade solution included graphite embedded Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) insulation and a ventilated façade with mineral wool insulation. Thermal bridges were minimised and the airtightness improved. The old individual gas boilers, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and electric heaters were replaced by condensing gas boilers, and photovoltaic (PV) panels were added on the roof. A mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery was installed. The measures were calculated to reduce the primary energy use from 328 kWh/m².year to 25 kWh/m²year which will improve the energy rating from class ‘E’ to ‘A’. The global renovation costs excl. taxes are687 €/usable floor area. 


Zaramaga social housing renovation © Luzyespacio / IMV

Zaramaga social housing renovation © Luzyespacio / IMV



PlusEnergy building renovation with prefabricated thermal façade elements: Kapfenberg


In this case study a typical residential building from the 1960’s with 32 apartments was renovated to a plus energy building, thus generating more primary energy than it uses if compared over a year. A project highlight is the pre-fabricated facade that was mounted on top of the existing brick wall and that includes active elements like PV modules and segments for the distribution of the heating, tap and waste water pipes. The building is connected to the local district heating system (which includes the use of waste), but 144 m² of solar thermal collectors cover part of the heating and domestic hot water (DHW) demand. Together with in total 630 m² PV on the roof and the south façade, more than 95 kWh/m².year primary energy is being generated, exceeding the primary energy use by 1 kWh/m².year. The building with total renovation costs of about 1,500 €/m² is certified ’klima:aktiv-Gold ‘.


Plus energy renovation Kapfenberg © Nussmüller Architekten ZT GmbH

Plus energy renovation Kapfenberg © Nussmüller Architekten ZT GmbH



La Maison du tourisme de Troyes (Aube, France): Energy renovation with a concrete hemp envelope


The Tourist Information Centre in Troyes has a timber-framed construction. The original building was burnt in a fire in 1524 and then reconstructed. The last refurbishment happened between 2011 and 2013. The main intention of the refurbishment was to achieve high levels of energy performance, safety, comfort and environmental sustainability without affecting the exceptional heritage of the building and thereby dealing as example for similar buildings located in the historical centre. The primary energy use could be decreased down to 108 kWh/m².year while a comparable standard building is assumed to need 186 kWh/m².year. The highlights of the project are the use of 30 cm of hemp concrete to fill the timber-framed walls, the roof and the floor screeds, the addition of plaster and cellulose plates on a bed of gravel against outdoor noise, and the detailed study for dating the wood and analysing the pigments in order to find the best restoration strategy. The total costs were estimated to amount to 3,760 €/m² net floor area.


La Maison du tourisme de Troyes © Carole Bell, Ville de Troyes

La Maison du tourisme de Troyes © Carole Bell, Ville de Troyes



CO₂-neutral heat supply of a renovated multi-family house in Munich


In Munich, three multi-family houses built in the 1950’s have been modernised(reshaping the building from originally 110 residential units to now 77 residential units) and given an energy-efficient retrofit with the goal of a CO₂-neutral heat supply. The technical project highlights were the vacuum insulation on the external wall facing the street, the solar supported local district heating network with a gas-driven geothermal heat pump and the large PV system on the roof to balance the remaining CO₂ emissions of the building’s energy use. The non-renewable primary energy use was calculated to be 254 kWh/m².year before and 10 kWh/m².year after the project. The total costs for the innovative measures (insulation of wall, ground floor, gas motor heat pump, ground-water coupling and automation) were 489 €/m² net floor area.


Renovated multi-family house block in Munich © GWG München

Renovated multi-family house block in Munich © GWG München



The European Commission's proposals "Clean Energy for all Europeans" are currently being debated at the European Parliament and Council, in order to reach a consensus that would be adopted as legislation. The process is expected to take place during 2017. BUILD UP will be reporting on the outcomes of these negotiations as they become available.