Members of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) sent a letter to the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Kadri Simson welcoming the Renovation Wave as a conditio sine qua non to reach the increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target for 2030 and climate-neutrality by 2050.
Investing in the ambitious renovation of the European building stock will help maintain and strengthen the competitive advantage of a broad range of innovative companies while supporting the local construction value chain. For citizens, investing in energy efficiency in buildings means unparalleled support for green and better jobs.
However, the Alliance reiterated the importance of some points. First of all the application of the Energy Efficiency First principle which must guide all building renovations’ decision-making processes. The Renovation Wave must also ensure sufficient and dedicated funds for renovation. Funds should be clearly earmarked and conditioned to increase the rate, depth and quality of integrated building renovations. The granting of financial support should follow the ratio unit of energy saved (or CO2 saved) per invested Euro, to ensure cost-effectiveness measurements of investments supported by EU funds.
EU-ASE is also insisting on the importance of sending a clear signal to owners and investors by introducing in the EU legislative framework Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for existing buildings. According to two recent studies, MEPS are cost-effective instruments to increase the rate, quality and depth of renovation and are a key driver towards the decarbonisation of the EU building stock.
The visibility and delivery of the Renovation Wave must be improved by accelerating district renovations which require a broader evaluation of energy needs on both the supply and demand side. Furthermore, digitalisation is a key driver in increasing system efficiency, both in the buildings sector and in the energy system as a whole. The adoption of smart technologies and digital tools, such as building automation and controls, smart lighting and smart functionalities are a prerequisite for better system efficiency, deeper renewables integration and multiple benefits provided to occupants, grid, operators and maintenance.
Members of EU-ASE asked to focus on immediate and efficient heat decarbonisation. The Renovation Wave is a great opportunity to accelerate the decarbonisation of heat in Europe’s buildings by combining energy efficiency, digitalisation and direct electrification with the deployment of smart, efficient, responsive electric heating and district level heating solutions. These can secure immediate carbon savings in buildings through existing and cost-effective solutions, enabling the use of waste heat and by the same token allow to prioritise limited green hydrogen capacity for deployment in harder-to-abate sectors, such as industry and freight.
Finally, also integrated renovation programmes can play a key role in making the urban environment more resilient. By leveraging energy efficiency measures, the Renovation Wave can support critical infrastructures resiliency (such as hospitals and schools) and adaptation strategies that can protect occupants from climate impacts, such as water stress, floods, heatwaves and urban heat island effect.