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Knauf Insulation welcomes inspired Renovation Wave

By Katarzyna Wardal
October 16, 2020

A historic proposal to renovate 35 million European buildings to high standards of energy efficiency by 2030 has been welcomed by Knauf Insulation.

The plan was announced by the European Commission yesterday as part of a package of proposals — known as the Renovation Wave — that will take long-term meaningful climate action, provide powerful post-pandemic economic growth and improve the living conditions for millions.

Our EU Public Affairs Manager Katarzyna Wardal said: “As buildings are responsible for 36% of Europe’s CO2 emissions, the Renovation Wave is a genuinely historic document offering a strategy that will contribute significantly to the EU’s plans to make Europe climate neutral by 2050.

“The strategy aims to at least double annual building renovation rates, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, seriously tackle the fuel poverty that impacts 34 million Europeans, while focusing on improving Europe’s worst performing buildings from social housing to schools and hospitals.

“Of course, the Commission’s strategy has to be supported by equally ambitious legislation, but the Renovation Wave offers a vision of the future that clearly pictures mores sustainable, energy efficient, comfortable healthy buildings by 2030 and beyond.”

The Commission says it is determined that the increased rate and depth of renovation will continue until 2050 to reach EU-wide climate neutrality.

And, in the words of Green Deal Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, the Renovation Wave will ensure “everyone in Europe has a home they can light, heat or cool without breaking the bank or the planet.”

So how does the strategy aim to achieve its ambitions?

There are several key areas of focus that Knauf Insulation welcomes. The first concerns better regulations, standards and information about the energy performance of buildings including mandatory minimum energy performance standards for all types of existing buildings — through a revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive — and the possibility of deep renovation standards and energy audits for non-residential buildings.

“It is vital that governments and anyone using these buildings get what is actually being paid for when it comes to renovation — buildings that provide a comfortable temperature with low energy bills and low emissions,” says Katarzyna. “Setting and ensuring standards that document the installation of quality materials incentivises high standards of renovation as demonstrated by our Knauf Energy Solutions business.”

The second broad area highlighted by the Renovation Wave is accessible and simpler, clearer European rules for the public funding of renovation particularly for residential and social housing. The possibility of using funding from the EU Emission Trading Scheme for energy efficiency initiatives such as renovation is also under consideration.

“We have been campaigning with our EU level partner associations for more straightforward European procedures for national renovation programmes and we hope that the updated regulations and guidelines planned for 2021 will prove to be transformational,” says Katarzyna. “We have also seen the success of using EU-ETS funds for renovation initiatives in Germany and Czechia and we support the wider spread application of this process.”

Knauf Insulation also welcomes Commission proposals recommending that renovation is put at the heart of Member States’ Recovery and Resilience plans which are designed to help countries to unlock EU funding. Earlier this year a €750 billion post-pandemic recovery fund was created and added to the EU’s 2021-7 budget to create overall funding of €1.8 trillion.

A further positive development is the European Investment Bank’s European Initiative for Building Renovation which is streamlining the challenging process of aligning complex financial support with portfolios of building renovation projects.

The Renovation Wave also focuses on reviewing targets for tackling the problem of construction and demolition waste — which accounts for 35% of total waste in Europe — guided by circular economy principals as well as sustainable building insight from the Commission’s Level(s) initiative.

In our new sustainability strategy For A Better World launched this month, Knauf Insulation has committed to delivering a circular economy and zero waste to landfill by 2025. We are also working on a number of projects to take back construction waste from our customers across Europe and recycle it in to new insulation. We have supported the Level(s) project since its inception and our Experience Center in Slovenia as well as our green building specialists have been supporting Level(s) with research and expertise.

“In addition, another of our sustainability strategy goals is to achieve zero carbon and cut embodied carbon in our products by 15%. The new proposals aim to develop a 2050 Roadmap for reducing whole life-cycle carbon emissions in buildings. We will be there to help.”

"Ultimately the Renovation Wave offers an exciting new chapter in the history of Europe’s built environment," says Katarzyna. "It sets a goal of renovating 35 million buildings by 2030 to help tackle emissions, it generates economic growth by at least doubling annual renovation rates and will make the lives of countless Europeans better."

In the words of the Renovation Wave, “In 10 years, the building of Europe will look remarkably different. Buildings will be microcosms of a more resilient, greener and digitalised society, operating in a circular system by reducing energy needs, waste generation and emissions at every point and reusing what is needed.”

At such a time of global challenge, this is an inspiring vision of optimism.


Picture in the header: Renovation of the residential complex in Casalecchio Di Reno, Italy

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Check our commitments to create better buildings.