Brussels (Brussels Morning) Ahead of legislative revisions to improve buildings’ energy performance, MEPs are urging the European Commission to establish adequate incentives for the renovation of edifices. The European Parliament also recommended the introduction of financial measures that are conditional on energy efficiency improvements and energy savings.
The report from the Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) was adopted with 49 votes in favour, 11 against and 2 abstentions. It will be put to vote during the December plenary session, some days before the Commission is set to table a revision of the rules on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption, which makes them Europe’s largest energy consumer. Currently 35% of the EU’s buildings are older than 50 years and they are severely inefficient in energy terms.
The Commission has estimated that renovation of existing buildings can help significantly reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lower CO2 emissions by about 5%.
“We must raise our building standards to match the increased urgency of climate action. This means enshrining standards to achieve climate-neutrality for all buildings in the revised EPBD”, the executive director of the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), Oliver Rapf, declared.
The Parliament maintained that an efficient legislation is crucial to delivering successfully on the Renovation Wave,that was announced by the Commission in October 2020, and which is intended to accelerate the uptake of energy and resource efficiency measures across the EU.
“With the ‘Fit for 55’ package, the EU is undergoing an ambitious systemic in how we produce, consume and store energy. It’s clear that any successful climate strategy must centrally consider both residential and commercial buildings, considering energy, water, indoor air quality, materials selection and location”, said MEP Sean Kelly (EPP).
During the 9 November ITRE meeting, MEPs denounced the inaccuracy of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) across EU countries, calling for improved certification systems. They insisted on the importance of clear and accurate information about energy performance and energy costs for prospective buyers and prospective tenants.
“We fundamentally see it as a market failure”, Barry Lynham, managing director at Knauf Energy Solutions, observed in reference to the EPCs.
“The experience in the market is that EPCs can actually be worse than not having them to a certain extent because they’re so inaccurate”, he explained. “This can actually create a certain lack of trust in whether things are being done correctly”.
A labelling system was also proposed, which would include the origins of the construction materials and whether they are sustainable, innovative and non-toxic. Such measure, the Parliament said, will strengthen the circularity of building materials.
MEPs have also considered the use of wood-based materials, noting that this could play a role in substituting fossil-based materials in buildings due to their long-term carbon storage potential.
Wider benefits of renovations like health, safety, thermal comfort and indoor air quality, should also be part of the EU countries’ long term renovation strategies.
Finally, member states must improve data collection on indoor environmental quality parameters, in order to develop minimum quality standards.
Overall, the Parliament maintains that the revision of building legislation should guarantee that such renovations will deliver a return on investment for homeowners and building owners by establishing real and measured improvements in energy performance.