On September 16, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen pushed everybody's energy efficiency hopes a little further: she increased the emission reduction target from 40 to 55% in a laudable attempt to turn the European continent into the leader of the new circular economy.
Those of us who work in the energy efficiency sector are celebrating this sign of a long-term commitment; at last! What's more, the necessary resources are available to EU member countries.
But we have to admit to mixed feelings: on the one hand, we welcome this very positive change for all, but on the other, we wonder how we are going to update and transform the majority of the buildings in which European citizens live and work.
It's a fact that 75% of buildings consume 35% of the energy in the European Union, so at the current 1% rate of renovation we will need a little more than 30 years to achieve the EU's objective.
This goal definitely moves us in the right direction, but the change needed is much deeper than it seems. It is not just a shift towards a more sustainable economy, but a deep change in our society as we understand it. It is about the reusing of resources, the redesign of production processes to reduce energy consumption, and changes to our way of living and consuming.
And for this, we need to reconsider the role that our building stock plays, and that it is more than 50 years old and needs a total and absolute renovation.
The main issue is that this change will depend on local governments, and it seems that not all understand the urgency of aligning their policies and actions with the EU in terms of timing and technical requirements. Action must be taken now. Every year, almost every day that passes, is lost time.
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