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2018 sets off race to renovate Europe’s building stock
2018 looks set to be a defining year for energy and environment policy in Europe, as important legislative files move towards becoming EU law. The new year will see EU lawmakers, officials and member states meet to negotiate and hammer out laws that will take the bloc all the way up to 2030.
Clean Energy Package, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has also entered the home straight, after a deal was struck right at the end of the calendar year.
EU lawmakers reached an agreement in December on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), firing the starting gun to renovate Europe’s entire building stock by 2050 so that it becomes “nearly zero emissions”.
Central to the agreement are long-term renovation strategies that all EU countries will be required to put in place.
The strategies, to be adopted at national level, will focus on building renovation investments in order to reach a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050.
National plans will have to include milestones for 2030 and 2040 and define “measurable progress indicators” such as renovation rates or a cap on energy consumption per square meter. But the actual measures will be entirely up to national governments.
“Increasing energy-efficiency is a no-brainer: it’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways of reducing our energy consumption and contributing to our climate goals,” said Kadri Simson, Economic Affairs Minister of Estonia, who represented the 28 EU member states in the Council.
Another flagship reform relates to electro-mobility, with a minimum EU requirement for buildings with more than ten parking spaces to install at least one recharging point, and ducting infrastructure for at least one in every five parking space.
Although he hailed the EPBD deal as “a step in the right direction” and a boost for local jobs, Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, appeared slightly disappointed about the electro-mobility aspects.
“I would have preferred to see a more ambitious commitment to e-vehicles charging points for non-residential buildings,” the Spanish Commissioner said, adding “This would have been more consistent with our commitments under the Paris Agreement and the European clean mobility strategy.”
Bendt Bendtsen, a Danish centre-right MEP who led the negotiations on behalf of the European Parliament, appeared delighted about the outcome, saying the revised EPBD will give “a clear signal that we are serious about improving European buildings”.
“With this agreement, we take an important step to ensure that our buildings contribute to a decarbonised and energy efficient economy – to the benefit of both the climate and the wallets of European citizens and businesses,” said Bendsten, who led an assertive Parliament delegation.
“We will also provide some much needed investor certainty by long-term planning and make use of all available tools for energy improvements – from financing support to building automation and inspections,” the Danish MEP said.
A mandate was agreed for the European Commission to establish a voluntary “Smart Readiness Indicator” assessing the capacity of buildings to adapt to the needs of its occupants – like automation systems for lighting or heating.
“The digitalisation of the energy system is transforming and modernising the energy landscape at a fast pace,” the Estonian Presidency explained in a statement. “The use of smart technologies and the integration of renewables to adjust and reduce energy consumption is encouraged as an integral part of future smart buildings,” it said.
The revised EPBD also sets up voluntary energy performance databases where national governments can file data collected through energy performance certificates.
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