New rules will make buildings smarter and more energy efficient, saving money and creating jobs in the renovation and construction sector.
The European Parliament gave, on 17 April 2018, its final approval on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Today’s vote signals the closure of the first of 8 legislative proposals part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package brought forward by the European Commission on 30 November 2016. This package is a key element of one of the Juncker Commission’s priorities, “a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy“.
The changes agreed today tap into the huge potential for efficiency gains in the building sector, the largest single energy consumer in Europe. They include measures that will accelerate the rate of building renovation towards more energy efficient systems and strengthen the energy performance of new buildings, making them smarter.
The energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) is part and parcel of the implementation of the Juncker Commission priorities to build “a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy”. The Commission wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition. For this reason, the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU’s economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. In doing so, the Commission is guided by three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers.
The building sector in the EU is the largest single energy consumer in Europe, absorbing 40% of final energy, and about 75% of buildings are energy inefficient. Likewise, and depending on the Member State, only 0.4-1.2% of the stock is renovated each year. This opens a vast potential for energy efficiency gains in Europe as well as economic opportunities: the construction industry generates about 9% of European GDP and accounts for 18 million direct jobs. Construction activities that include renovation work and energy retrofits add almost twice as much value as the construction of new buildings, and SMEs contribute more than 70% of the value added in the EU building sector.
Significant upfront investment is required for the refurbishment of buildings. The EPBD is a substantial element of the European Commission’s work to make buildings more efficient and boost renovation. This work is accompanied by enabling tools, for example, the revised Eurostat guidance for energy performance contracts which will help the building sector increase the necessary investments, see IP/17/3268. It works in synergy with the Smart Finance for Smart Buildings Initiative. Furthermore, with the extended European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI 2.0), the Commission focuses more on sustainable investments in all sectors to contribute to meeting the EU’s energy and climate targets and to help to deliver on the transition to a resource efficient, circular and low-carbon economy. At least 40% of EFSI projects under the infrastructure and innovation window should contribute to the Commission’s commitments on climate action and energy transition in line with the Paris Agreement objectives, see MEMO/17/3224.