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How to spend billions on a post-pandemic recovery that REALLY delivers results

By Knauf Insulation
April 19, 2021

The deadline for EU Member States’ post-pandemic recovery plans is just days away. There are billions of euros available on the table. And our Public Affairs teams are working to ensure meaningful and effective national building renovation initiatives are at the heart of every plan.

Every EU Member State must submit their national Recovery and Resilience plan by the end of this month outlining how they will use their allocation of the €672.5 billion ring-fenced by the EU to rebuild European economies shattered by COVID-19.

Our EU Public Affairs Manager Katarzyna Wardal says: “Our public affairs work has focused on ensuring that these historic amounts of money are used in the most effective and productive way possible to help the maximum number of Europeans renovate their buildings.

“High quality, deep renovation delivers on every level. It improves living standards for millions, requires the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs and reduces emissions. Buildings are responsible for 36% of Europe’s CO2.”

To receive approval for their allocation of funding each Member State’s national plan must meet key conditions such as ensuring 37% of expenditure is used towards climate objectives. The Commission has also put huge emphasis on rewarding national renovation initiatives – building renovation is one of the top priority areas that countries need to address in their plans.


Promising renovation proposals

So how is Europe doing? The picture is mixed, but there have been many good national proposals submitted with tens of billions of euros allocated for renovation.

For example, in Spain this week, following our campaigns with national and Europe-wide associations, the government unveiled a  €6.8 billion proposal for nation-wide energy efficient building renovation.

Our Sustainability & Technical Marketing Manager Félix García-Primi, says: “The draft plan focuses on buildings more than 40 years old and on a tripling of annual renovation rates from 1% to 3%.

“The key aim is to cut CO2 emissions from old buildings, reduce Spain’s high unemployment rate, increase the number of energy-efficient social homes and improve the population’s living conditions. There has also been a focus on renovation initiatives to create jobs in villages and reduce internal migration from rural areas to cities.”


Healthier buildings

Such justification for renovation has also been mirrored in another country, Croatia.

Krešimir Benjak, our Marketing and Communication Manager in Croatia, says: “The goal of the €792 million renovation proposal — which is still to be finalised at national level — is to transform existing buildings into energy-efficient and decarbonised building stock as well as reduce energy poverty, create healthier buildings and improve fire safety and seismic resilience.

“The renovation wave includes residential and non-residential buildings, private and public buildings taking specific account of the importance of health and educational buildings.”


Across entire regions, national renovation plans are also adding up to epoch-defining investments. Peter Robl, our Public Affairs Manager for Eastern Europe, says: “Our preliminary analysis shows that Eastern European countries intend to allocate €15 billion to renovation and the new construction of buildings.

“This will generate substantial investment in addition to the status quo. Governments must now properly design and implement their schemes to ensure good uptake and deliver the respective energy savings and climate action.”


Knauf Insulation can help

At the time of writing, several countries have still to file their plans to the European Commission and others still need support with their renovation component.

Katarzyna adds: “Although some countries have already announced detailed and promising proposals for renovation, unfortunately not all Member States have created precise reforms and investment plans for their building stock. There is still time to do so before April 30. And at Knauf Insulation, we are here to help.”


Focus on buildings that need renovation most

Residential and social housing, hospitals, schools, care homes, there are hundreds of thousands of public buildings in Europe that should be prioritised for renovation.

In France a total of €9.2 billion has been dedicated to renovation with €4 billion for public buildings, €2.1 billion for health buildings and €2.5 billion for private and social housing.


Source expertise to make renovation a reality

“For energy renovation in particular, Member States have been leaving money on the table, because they are ill-equipped to apply for it properly,” says Adrian Joyce, Campaign Director of Renovate Europe, of which Knauf Insulation is a partner.

Technical Assistance is a wealth enabler for buildings, says Adrian, citing the example of the draft Czechia National Recovery and Resilience Plan which allocates money to Technical Assistance for building renovation. The Commission’s RECOVER Taskforce is also there to help.

To help Member States, the European Commission also recommends establishing one-stop renovation shops that tackle the whole customer journey from information and technical assistance to financial schemes and the auditing of energy savings.


Make performance a priority

To make a historic impact, national renovation programmes have to deliver quantifiable results.

This means setting and ensuring standards that document the installation of quality materials as well as incentivising — and auditing — high performance workmanship.

Our sister company Knauf Energy Solutions, has vast experience at scaling up quality renovations in Belgium and the UK as well as providing quantifiable before and after results.


Scale up successful initiatives

Renovation is not just about quality. It is also about quantity. It is vital that building renovation is scaled up.


Our public affairs experts in Slovakia and Bulgaria, for example, have been campaigning to ensure that on-hold renovation projects involving municipal buildings and multi-apartment buildings are finally put at the top of policy-makers’ National Recovery and Resilience Plans and become a reality.

In Italy, we worked with policy makers to develop what is known as the Superbonus 110% scheme which provides a 110% fiscal incentive to meet the cost of insulation installation.

Plans are now underway to use part of the money from the recovery plan to extend the scheme at least until the end of 2023 and extend its application beyond residential buildings to non-residential buildings such as hotels and offices.

The success of this initiative can be easily duplicated across Europe.


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