The EU is urging to modernize its building stock and cut emissions

Buildings account for more than a third of EU emissions. The European Commission has published 14th of October its Renovation Wave strategy, which aims to accelerate energy renovation and low-carbon construction of buildings. Karoliina Rasi, an expert at EK’s Brussels office, summed up the main points of the initiative.

Buildings account for around 40% of EU energy consumption and around 36% of CO2 emissions. As many as 75 percent of the entire building stock is energy inefficient and only one percent of buildings are renovated annually. Therefore, building stock renewal is crucial to achieving the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal.

The Renovation Wave’s economic scale is massive. According to the Commission, achieving the 2030 climate target alone will require an additional € 275 billion in annual investment to renovate Europe’s building stock. Of this amount, EUR 250 billion would be needed for private buildings and the remaining EUR 75 billion for public buildings.

What is the Renovation Wave initiative doing in practice? Achieving rapid emission reductions will require major cuts in the energy consumption of the current building stock. This means improving energy efficiency and introducing low-carbon energy sources. The potential of the circular economy and digitalisation should be considered in both new construction and renovation projects. Low carbon solutions and energy efficiency should also be taken into account in all public procurement.

The Renovation Wave strategy considers Member States’ own long-term building renovation strategies and national energy and climate plans.

The Commission hopes that Member States will include building renovation plans in their national recovery plans. The Commission also set up seven flagship initiatives in support of national recovery fund plans, one of which is “Renovation – Improving the energy efficiency of public and private buildings”. The Renovation Wave initiative could be used to promote economic recovery by creating local jobs. SMEs would benefit from the renovation plans as they account for more than 70% of EU construction activity.

Confederation of Finnish Industries believe that the Commission is on the right track, although in Finland buildings are already reasonably energy efficient due to our cold climate. By renovating existing buildings, significant energy savings can be achieved in Europe. Here again, however, we emphasize the effective targeting of funding and measures: ensuring that the actions truly result in decarbonisation  and green recovery in the building sector and that inputs are not used to maintain existing structures.

Renovation Wave: doubling the renovation rate to cut emissions, boost recovery and reduce energy poverty