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Why Europe can’t afford to dilute the ambition of the Buildings Directive

By Anonymous
November 06, 2017

The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has been given renovation superpowers to transform Europe.

It’s vital that this is not a wasted opportunity.

The EPBD has been deeply enriched by the legislative report led by Bendt Bendtsen MEP and adopted in the energy committee of the European Parliament on October 11. These changes, if adopted, will enable Member States to make meaningful energy savings through building renovation and, in the process, reduce fuel poverty, boost national economies and cut greenhouse emissions.

So, when policy makers and politicians from the EU’s three main institutions will sit down tomorrow for trialogue talks to hammer out a deal on the EPBD, it is vital that this ambition is not diluted.

But why is this revised Directive such a big deal in the first place?

“It’s down to three words: strategy, strategy, strategy,” says Katarzyna Wardal, Knauf Insulation’s EU Public Affairs Manager. “The EPBD calls on European countries to create long-term, well-thought-out renovation strategies, installs milestone dates to measure their success and creates the ‘trigger points’ needed to achieve their ambition.”

Knauf Insulation has always campaigned for Europe’s existing buildings to be renovated to near-zero energy use because of the transformational benefits to society, the environment and the economy. The MEPs who drew up the Directive’s revisions know this too.

Buildings consume 40% of Europe’s energy and account for 36% of its CO2 emissions. If they are made more energy efficient, emissions can be reduced and in the process renovation will help the millions of Europeans who can’t afford to keep their homes warm in winter and cooler in the summer as well as create millions of new renovation-related jobs.

“Everyone knows that the energy efficient renovation of buildings is the right thing to do. But this Directive is not about doing the right thing. It’s about how fast are we going to do it,” says Katarzyna “This revised Directive finally transforms renovation rhetoric into renovation reality and offers an historic opportunity to double renovation rates across Europe. If the trialogue talks miss this golden opportunity, we will lose at least a decade before the chance comes around again.”

It is a sentiment shared by Shradha Abt, the Energy Efficiency Manager of the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (Eurima). “We hope the trialogues will uphold the ambition of the MEPs who revised the EPBD because, frankly, if we don’t future-proof our building stock properly and don’t deliver real renovation, this revision will not have served its purpose.”

The European Union has consistently called for a focus on making energy efficiency ‘Europe’s first fuel’ and as a meaningful way to curb emissions and keep temperature increases well below 2ºC as part of the EU’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“The time for talk is over. It’s time to walk the walk and this Directive is a big step forward,” says Shradha. “Just look at the figures. The International Energy Agency has said that two-thirds of Europe’s low carbon infrastructure has to be in energy efficiency to achieve Europe’s Paris pledge. There is no better place to start than buildings.”

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete agrees. Without renovation strategies that can be measured and monitored, Member States are in danger of falling short of their national energy saving potential, he says.

Speaking during Renovate Europe Day, he urged policy makers and politicians to be ambitious about energy saving building renovation. “Buildings will unquestionably play a major role in delivering on our Paris commitments. Any reduction in the level of ambition — including through added flexibilities — will slow down new actions and above all renovation projects, and thereby prevent the delivery of the needed savings.”

There is a lot at stake as trialogue representatives of Europe’s Parliament, Commission and Council sit down to those EPBD talks.

Perhaps more than ever before.

“Last week a research study by the World Meteorological Organisation found that 2016 CO2 levels in the planet’s atmosphere have increased at the fastest rate in at least 30 years and concentrations of greenhouse gas in our atmosphere are now 45% more than pre-industrial levels,” says Katarzyna.

“So, when it comes to action, speed is just as important as the trialogue’s ambition. This Directive is a wonderful opportunity to transform Europe for the better. We must not lose it.”

Click here to read more in our latest Sustainability Report 2017 and our article about Building Better Regulation:

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