Revision of the Buildings Directive: Realising the full potential

The European Parliament has done sterling work on maximising the energy efficiency potential of the EU Building Stock report; let’s make sure it ties into all areas, writes Iskra Mihaylova.
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By Iskra Mihaylova

Iskra Mihaylova (BG, RE) is a shadow rapporteur of the Maximising the Energy Efficiency Potential of Building Stock report

09 Jun 2021

The European Parliament was active, focused on results and demonstrated its readiness to work constructively in partnership with the European Commission during the preparation and votes on the report on Maximising the Energy Efficiency of EU Building Stock.

It was a successful effort by the Parliament’s Industry, Research & Energy Committee in creating a common position on the future renovation, maintenance and development of Europe’s building stock.

The vote on the report in plenary was held before the publication of the Commission’s Renovation Wave initiative and the Parliament declared majority support for some of the important principles and policy elements that lie at its core.

These include the Energy Efficiency First principle, reinforcement of National Renovation strategies, continuous and stable financing (based on realistic planning and efficient coordination between European Structural and Investment Funds, public private partnerships, contribution from the European Investment Bank and national investment banks, EU Emissions Trading System mechanisms, and all the available financial instruments), digitalisation, information campaigns, fire safety, innovation in cooling, heating and fire safety technologies.

“Clear targets, together with indicators and mechanisms for controlling the results, will make the LTRS more flexible and more efficient”

The Renew Europe group has supported the report and all these achievements through our work in the European Parliament, but we were also happy to receive approval for some of our important positions in the report.

It was a priority for us to include the main principles of open and competitive markets, to underline the role of renewable energy infrastructure as a main source for energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the building stock.

We also sought to open opportunities for the use of artificial intelligence in the lifecycle of buildings and to mention the materials used for renovation. We also wanted to stress the strong link with the circular economy and pay greater attention to the qualification of workers in the construction sector.

However, it is clear that we have further work to do on some other relevant regulations. The EU Buildings Directive, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, and the Energy Efficiency Directive need brought in line with the new strategy for growth and innovation of the EU, the Green Deal and the Digital transition.

There is also pressing need for strong synergies with the Climate Law, the Digital Services and Digital Market Acts, the Fit for 55 package, Next Generation EU, as well as with the Circular Economy Strategy.

These should all be revised to meet all the aforementioned principles and policy elements, which are recognised by Parliament and the Commission. They are also supported by a large number of umbrella organisations, who participated in consultations and contributed to the final version of the Parliamentary report on Maximising Energy Efficiency of EU Building stock.

Furthermore, the Reinforcement of Long-term Renovation Strategies (LTRS) have to be clearly positioned in the Directives as important instruments for achieving climate targets and the green and digital transitions.

We expect that development of the LTRS scope will be achieved, as well as creation of a strong synergy between this and the Energy and Climate National Plans, and to share common ambitious targets for decarbonisation of the building stock.

“If we can achieve coordination with the New European Bauhaus initiative, we will guarantee high levels of ecological standards together with urban aesthetic and architectural quality”

We also need definitions for the buildings with the worst characteristics together with a particular strategy concerning public buildings. Clear targets, together with indicators and mechanisms for controlling the results, will also make the LTRS more flexible and more efficient.

An important element of the strategies should be a formula for stable financing through public and private sources. It will require close coordination with National Plans for Recovery and Resilience.

Energy efficiency certificates for buildings and minimum standards for energy characteristics, together with a new approach to construction materials and technology, are an important part of the overall renovation and sustainable development process of the building stock and urban environment.

If we can achieve coordination with the New European Bauhaus initiative, we will guarantee high levels of ecological standards together with urban aesthetic and architectural quality.

The European Parliament adopted a strong position supporting the main strategic goals for decarbonisation and energy efficiency. It is now time to look at the response and the effective measures taken by all Member States.

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