9 April 2024
6 mins
Source: IEECP

A boost for renovation: Europe’s buildings directive is on the right track – goes into the hands of the Council of the EU

Source: IEECP

On the 12th of March, the European Parliament – MEPs – voted in favour of the proposed text of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), taking Europe one step closer to a climate-neutral building stock. The adoption of the EPBD is a crucial instrument to decarbonise Europe’s building stock and achieve our climate neutrality targets. While the text of the EPBD has been approved, for the Directive to be officially adopted and become law, the Council of Ministers still have to vote. Once this final hurdle has been overcome and the process is complete, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enter into force by end of May / early June. 

Why is the EPBD so important? 

According to the European Commission, buildings in the EU are responsible for 40% of our energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. The EPBD sets out the strategy to gradually decarbonise the building sector while bringing benefits to consumers. The Directive is a key part of the EU’s flagship Renovation Wave Strategy that aims to double the renovation rate and is a central pillar of the European Green Deal and Fit for 55 package. 

Some key highlights of the revised EPBD text include: 

  • New buildings must be zero-emission from 2030, those occupied or owned by public authorities will be so as of 2028.  
  • For residential buildings, at least 16% energy reduction should be achieved
  • Member States will have to renovate 16% of worst-performing non-residential buildings. They will need to outline measures to decarbonise heating systems. aiming to phase out fossil fuels in heating and cooling by 2040.  
  • Subsidising stand-alone fossil fuel boilers will be prohibited as of 2025.  

The revised EPBD lays down a clear trajectory to achieve the deep renovation targets set out in the Renovation Wave Strategy, by containing measures that seek to improve the strategic planning of renovations and tools to facilitate the renovation process. 

Once the EPBD officially becomes law, Member States will be required to: 

  • Establish National Building Renovation Plans to set out the national strategy to decarbonise the building stock and include how to address remaining barriers, such as financing, training, and attracting more skilled workers.  
  • Set up national building renovation passport schemes to guide building owners in their staged renovations towards zero-emission buildings.      
  • Establish one-stop shops for homeownersSMEs, and all actors in the renovation value chain, to receive dedicated and independent support and guidance.   

In the European Parliament, the file was allocated to the ITRE committee, which appointed Ciarán Cuffe (Greens/EFA, Ireland) as rapporteur. The Parliament endorsed the provisional agreement on 12 March 2024. The next step is the formal signature and publication in the official journal. 

Ciarán Cuffe, Greens/EFA MEP and European Parliament Rapporteur on the directive, comments: “This law is not only good for the planet, it is also good for people. It will lower energy bills for everyone, prioritise renovation funding for vulnerable groups and enhance renter protections. It focuses on improving the ability of buildings to harness local renewables, which, combined with social safeguards and financial support, will improve housing quality, cut import dependency, and fight energy poverty. It is also set to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the efficiency and renewable industries. This is the Just Transition in action: we have set a pathway to achieve a climate neutral building stock, and we have paved that pathway with measures to ensure that the people who can least afford to renovate are protected and prioritised along the way.” 

Giving homeowners a helping hand in renovation 

The revised EPBD recognises the importance of information services, also called one-stop-shops, in reducing the energy consumption of homes, by setting Member States a target of at least 1 one-stop-shop (OSS) for every 80,000 citizens. 

One-stop shops serve as an essential guide for homeowners interested in starting the home renovation process by providing a digital and/or physical platform and space where consumers can go and find the information they need to make the best choices for their properties. Digital OSS platforms, like the one being developed by the LIFE-funded HORIS project, aim to simplify the home renovation process and break down the barriers currently faced by consumers.  

Benefits of the HORIS OSS for consumers: 

  • A place to seek support and guidance on the financial, technical and legal aspects of home renovation. 
  • A customised package of home renovation measures for their properties. 
  • Access to a network of professionals whose services are quality-assured. 

OSS platforms like the one that is being developed by HORIS are crucial to help homeowners in each step of the renovation journey and therefore, contribute to more energy-efficient and carbon-neutral homes. OCU, the Spanish Consumer Organisation, summarises in an article the eight key measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy performance in the European Union and how OCU helps consumers achieve these goals through the renovation and rehabilitation of buildings and the replacement of air conditioning equipment with more efficient ones such as aerothermal energy through 2 European projects, including HORIS. 

Our coordination team – leading consumer organisation -DECO Proteste in Portugal together with Altroconsumo in Italy and OCU in Spain, belonging to the Euroconsumers network  applauses the decision to create a stable environment for investment decisions and to enable consumers and businesses to make informed choices, though regrets that Italian MEPs mostly voted against the law. Italy, Spain and Portugal are the countries in focus in HORIS, with a one-stop-shop being developed in cooperation with other partners of the consortium: GNE Finance, De Groene Grachten, ANERR, IEECP, INEGI, Bureau Veritas Portugal, Nova University in the coming year. The one-stop-shop will be hosted on the websites of the 3 consumer organisations. The project is here to facilitate the process of implementing the EU legislation, keeping consumers at heart – countries should take advantage of this support. 

“The building stock is characterised by poorly insulated and energy inefficient buildings. It is therefore essential to invest in the large-scale renovation of buildings, both to improve user comfort and for the necessary decarbonisation of the building stock, which will speed up the climate transition. From the citizens’ perspective, this law is key to help in this transition to more energy-efficient homes while reducing energy bills”, adds Elsa Agante, team leader Energy and Sustainability at DECO Proteste and project coordinator

This article was originally posted IEECP