Large-scale renovation is a complex challenge, therefore a renovation strategy is a must

Oliver Rapf
Oliver Rapf
November 20, 2019

With deadlines looming, some advice for EU member states to speed up progress on their national building renovation strategies.

House being renovated seen from the outside

In Europe, many of our buildings are old and in poor shape. If we’re going to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, they need deep energy renovation, and on a large scale.

In Europe, 65 percent of the building stock was built before 1980. To achieve the 2050 decarbonisation goal, 97 percent of these buildings must be upgraded. The current renovation rate, 0.4-1.2 percent per year, isn’t enough.

We need to speed up our progress.

Let’s consider some deadlines

The recently amended Energy Performance of Buildings Directive sets a clear direction towards the full decarbonisation of the European building stock by 2050. The law requires Member States to update their long-term renovation strategies by March 2020. That strategy should include milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050 that allow the EU Commission to track progress.

In addition, national governments must provide details on how they are implementing their current renovation strategies. In the future, the renovation strategy must be updated regularly; the next update will take place in 2024. All this means that the timeline for implementation and revisions of this important instrument is clear. Member states have no excuse to miss these deadlines.

(O106) Inline Blog Link: Transition

Tools, guidance and resources to help you develop the strategy 

Given the complexity of renovating our buildings and the many interests to be considered, the regulation stresses the importance of stakeholder exchange and consultation in various ways.

With the March deadline for submitting updated renovation strategies approaching, governments should now be in an intensive consultation phase with stakeholders – but we see very limited activities.  

Renovation strategies should aim to be comprehensive, to bring together the full range of levers and tools to drive a significant and sustained increase in the depth and rate of renovation of our entire building stock. This is no easy task, but governments can use a number of resources which provide advice. In “Future-proof buildings for all Europeans” ”, BPIE addresses various aspects of the Directive, offering Member States a comprehensive toolkit to meet the decarbonisation challenge. The publication focuses on long-term renovation strategies, on financing of renovation, and explains instruments such as Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) as well as building renovation passports, a tool that provides homeowners with information on their building’s energy performance and tailored advice on how to renovate.

In another guide targeting municipal decision-makers, developed in the project ‘Our Buildings[1]‘, BPIE explains that renovation strategies should be designed to facilitate implementation and to reduce hurdles for implementers at local level. This means that extensive stakeholder consultation is necessary so that policymakers are fully aware of the barriers, but also to hear from stakeholders about their needs. Often, innovative ideas come from those who deal with the challenges daily.

Undertaking a consultation exercise with national – and local - stakeholders is therefore highly recommended. Representatives from the research community, professional service providers, energy utilities, equipment manufacturers and installation companies should always be included in the consultation process together with the finance community.

(O106) Inline Blog Link: Croatia

The importance of gathering local and regional input

As Member States are expected to deliver their next renovation strategy by March 2020, public consultation should be high on the agenda now. BPIE has developed support tools, such as a template to help develop national long-term strategies, and guidance for public officers, which spells out the process to set up a renovation strategy including public consultation. Also, the Clean Energy Package contains a range of elements which need to be considered for an effective renovation strategy, as a new BPIE report explains.

National strategies can only be successful with the involvement of regional and local authorities, considering that they will be required to design and implement detailed action plans to deliver the plans at the end. These plans allow policies and measures to be tailored to address local challenges.

The project, Our Buildings, aims to increase local authorities’ involvement in planning the strategies. Things are happening on the ground now: last July, municipalities in Romania and Bulgaria organised stakeholder consultations to better identify the barriers at local level. These consultations will feed into the process of drafting successful long-term renovation strategies.

This experience shows that the decision to run comprehensive consultations is beneficial both for the stakeholder community and the policymakers. It helps to build “buy-in” from the stakeholders which will have to deliver the results on the ground. A stakeholder consultation should NOT be an exercise which is only fulfilled on paper or through an online survey but through real meetings and dialogue. This takes time and effort, but the pay back will be high.

A successful renovation strategy will stimulate research and development into techniques and technologies that deliver greater energy savings at lower cost, as well as many other economic, environmental, societal and energy system benefits. It is therefore high time that governments engage in this process so that the 2020 national renovation strategies will give a strong push to renovating our building stock. This is one of the most important answers to the climate crisis.

[1] Project supported by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)