The Renovation Wave: A Make or Break for the European Green Deal

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Publication Date October 2020
ISBN 979-10-373-0237-3
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European buildings are old and too often inefficient, past policies have not delivered and the amount of investment into energy efficiency must be scaled up dramatically to meet the 2030 targets and ultimately, the carbon neutrality objective. Building renovations are too slow and insufficient. The European Union (EU) and its Member States (MS) need to critically accelerate its efforts, for instance by multiplying by up to 4 the number of deep building renovations every year.

Why is the renovation market so difficult to kick-start? The sector is extremely complex, with number of different buildings, regulations and actors, at all levels, from the European to the local one. This means that coordination of the different stakeholders is a major challenge. In addition, building renovation policies may be slowed down by some of the traditional European weaknesses: lengthy processes, different interests of lobbying groups, weak implementation of the regulations, a lack of knowledge or trust from the tenant or home-owners, financing and technology issues, etc.

There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic though. Regulations have accelerated energy efficiency investments in buildings over the past decade, despite the 2008 crisis, and altogether, household energy efficiency has improved of approximately 30% since 2000. Some innovative and promising policies are being implemented in many countries. The call of Ursula von der Leyen to establish a European Bauhaus points to new creative and efficient ways to promote building renovation across the continent.

The construction sector needs clear signals on the future of the building renovation market in order to adapt its training strategies with less emphasis on new building and more on renovation. Lastly, the Renovation Wave cannot succeed without a sustained effort to ramp up skills and the number of qualified jobs in this sector, with state-of-the art technologies becoming a standard all across the EU, alongside the use of low carbon and ideally, sustainable renovation materials.

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