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Want to save the planet? Today is the day to be ambitious

By Laura Croze
October 09, 2018

Today is Renovate Europe Day the perfect opportunity to focus the minds of Europe’s leaders on what really matters — saving the planet’s energy resources, tackling climate change and making lives better.

Earlier this year, European Union countries signed off on a critical revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive with a target of making Europe’s buildings nearly zero energy use by 2050.

Ambitious strategies

So, where do you start? With ambitious national renovation strategies that really deliver. We are here to help. As supporters of the Renovate Europe campaign, we have campaigned policy makers to make buildings energy efficient through renovation.

Today is the ideal day to share what we’ve learned. And it starts with the three Ps. Planning, planning, planning.

Benefits for everyone

First you need to explain the benefits. In the European Union, buildings are responsible for 40% of all energy use and 36% of all emissions. Renovating buildings to be energy efficient will cut these figures, reduce reliance on foreign energy supplies, help alleviate fuel poverty and create new jobs. People need to know this. They also need to be reminded of how renovation will reduce their energy bills, make their buildings more comfortable and improve health and well-being.

Mandate trigger points

It is not enough to promise to renovate buildings; you have to install trigger points to make it happen. In France, a ‘passport’ for buildings is under discussion to incentivise energy efficient renovations over a period. Like a document that charts the service history of car, the passport is handed from one building owner to the next so it is clear what energy efficient renovation has taken place. This makes renovation a journey, not just a one-off shot. It also reveals the payback of energy efficiency showing that managing energy use is about managing the value of a building.

Create market confidence

Energy efficient buildings are worth more than inefficient ones. That is good news for owners as well as organisations that lend money and need collateral with positive cash flows for lending. Energy efficient buildings spend less money on energy so savings can be used to pay back bank loans. Owners of energy-efficient homes are 32% less likely to default on mortgages so they are better risk for loans. In Europe, 37 banks launched a pilot green mortgage scheme in June 2018 which will explore the potential of low rate loans for ‘near zero-energy’ new builds and for renovated properties that cut energy use by 30% (backed by a new Energy Performance Certificate). Could this inspire a renovation revolution? We hope so. At Knauf Insulation we have been supporting this initiative since it was first discussed two years ago.

Develop ambitious policies

In Spain, for example, there are 23 million homes of which 10 million were built before codes required any energy saving solutions. At a European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings workshop, representatives from the manufacturing industry (including Knauf Insulation), the finance sector, the European Commission and the Spanish authorities, signed the Madrid Declaration calling for greater political ambition for the energy renovation of existing buildings. This call was mirrored in Italy where we were a main sponsor of the 2018 Energy Festival. Italian homes use almost 40% of the country’s energy and at the event; we stressed the importance of setting ambitious national policies to support the energy efficiency market.

Provide European funding

The next European Union budget is for 2021-7. At the time of going to press 25% of funding had been allocated to tackle climate change. The European Parliament wants this figure to increase to 30%. Whatever happens, ambitious levels of funding must be allocated to energy efficient buildings. This is vitally important in Central and Eastern European countries where development funds can make the biggest impact on developing regions.

Never forget safety

Fire risk should be designed out of any renovation initiative from the beginning. There are numerous risk factors to consider from ineffective installation to products that are not fire safe or a careless drill hole during a later building modification. For peace of mind fire safety must always come first.

To read more about how Knauf Insulation supports the renovation of buildings click here.