Collectively, buildings in the EU are responsible for 40% of our energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, which mainly stem from construction, usage, renovation and demolition. Improving energy efficiency in buildings therefore has a key role to play in achieving the ambitious goal of carbon-neutrality by 2050, set out in the European Green Deal.
Today, roughly 75% of the EU building stock is energy inefficient. This means that a large part of the energy used goes to waste. Renovating existing buildings could reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lower carbon dioxide emissions by about 5%. The EU recently introduced new ambitious policies to help steer member states towards better energy efficiency in buildings. Knowing that cost is often the major hurdle to renovation, the new rules also ease access to financing for improving the building stock.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) 2010/31/EU and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) 2012/27/EU were revised in 2018, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, to better reflect the EU’s aim of driving the clean energy transition.
EU countries need to write the new and revised provisions of the EPBD into national law by 10 March 2020. In addition, each EU country needs to present its strategy for tackling energy in buildings for the period 2021-2030 through its integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs). The cumulative impact of these efforts at national level will feed into the overall goal of reaching a 32.5% energy efficiency target by 2030 for the EU.
Through Horizon 2020 research and innovation projects, the EU invests in grants or loans that help push technology and best practice in the sector. Appliances like smart meters, better performing materials and digital tools contribute to energy efficiency and can help consumers to better control their energy consumption, and save money. To boost building renovation, the European Commission has announced the intention to start a new "renovation wave" initiative as part of the European Green Deal.
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