Is it time for a “renovation wave” of old buildings across the European Union? Europe’s buildings are responsible for roughly 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption, and 36% of its annual CO2 emissions. Yet, at the same time, over 35% of the existing building stock in Europe is over 50 years old, and many of the buildings constructed before 1945, for example, are uninsulated and very energy inefficient.

The European Commission estimates Europe’s historic buildings could reduce their energy consumption by 15-20% with proper insulation. Should there be a massive increase in public funding for energy efficient building refurbishment? Who will pay for this renovation wave? How can investors, the private sector, industry, the construction sector, municipalities and governments all work together to fairly and efficiently renovate Europe’s stock of non-residential buildings, houses and apartments?

Want to learn more about energy efficiency in Europe’s building stock? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Luigi, who doesn’t think European governments should try and retrofit existing housing stock with better insulation and energy efficiency. Instead, he argues they should concentrate on new housing.

To get a response to Luigi’s comment, we put it to Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy. What would she say? Should EU governments prioritise energy efficiency for new buildings or retrofit old ones?

For another perspective, we also put Luigi’s comment to Giordana Ferri, Executive Director of Fondazione Housing Sociale, a non-profit foundation promoting the social housing sector in Italy. What did she think?

We also put Luigi’s comment to Ciaran O’Leary, European Climate Pact Ambassador in Ireland, who is interested in “how sustainable finance can positively impact buildings and construction”. What would he say?

No, I would disagree, you have to look at the existing stock. The existing stock is a huge polluter, and it’s not only that. I know we hear a lot about a ‘fair and just transition’, but an awful lot of people can’t afford to heat their homes. And you have to bring all of those people together with you. You have to insulate their homes and reduce their carbon footprint.

The easy ones are the newbuilds. They’re easy, we’re doing them all of the time. It’s the existing stock, and an awful lot of that existing stock will still be there in 2050. If we don’t work to actively engage with that stock and work to reduce its consumption and the operational demands of that stock, then you’re not really going to make any real difference.

Finally, we had a comment sent in from Krzysztof, who argues:

If we want to stop climate changes, we need [national housing retrofitting plans] and to wisely use public funds. Without help from government, many families won’t be able to [invest in] more environmentally-friendly [technology], as it might seem too expensive.

How would Monica Frassoni from the European Alliance to Save Energy respond?

Do you want to get involved? Sign up to the European Climate Pact and pledge to take practical steps to help reduce carbon pollution on our planet.

How can we make Europe’s buildings more energy efficient? Should we prioritise energy efficiency for new buildings or retrofit old ones? Do we need national housing retrofitting plans across Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

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6 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    Sorry, to spoil somebody’s weekend.

    “WE” cannot make Europe’s building more energy efficient- only rent, buy or build what the market, or the social housing department offers and the current building NORM is! This is a disingenuous question!

    “After years of observing how questions are formulated here- am I allowed to pose a critical question in this regard?

    The- “How can we”? – “Are we?” – “Can we”? – Should we? – “Does”? – “Do you”? “What”? “Would” etc. need equally be scrutinized and explained. The usage of “WE” (=EU= national- or dual citizens?) should give rise to fair questions from the citizen’s side to the Friends of Europe. Granted, they offer all still a democratic voice & conduce to freely discuss issues here- which also needs to be appreciated.

    Most solutions to such questions however are complex in nature, very technical, scientific, and above most politicians, bureaucrats, even experts, or ordinary citizens’ unbiased comprehension. Cynically- probably only Bankers, Lobbyists, Commissioners who swore allegiance to the EU and EU dependent employees are pretending to know it all & can do it all?

    I am under the impression that there are many national issues (with varying degrees of competences) taken up and portrayed as EU issues- as if there exists a predetermined path to eventually hand over or capture all national competences to/by the EU?

    These line of questions should be posed by reps from national governments at home- with the insistence from their political parties & voters. But at which forum?

    Or- is the EU already fully empowered to think and answer on behalf of all national governments & their Ministers etc.?

    Like it or not? Take it or leave it? Or question it?

  2. avatar

    Stop bothering us with rules

  3. avatar

    If you fight poverty, people will have the money to improve their houses.

  4. avatar

    The only salvation of our planet is our turn to green growth.

  5. avatar

    i wish i could afford to exterior insulate my home ..put a new roof in with the correct insulation , but solar panels for the roof and look at heating my house more efficiently than the gas heating i have(thank god for the things i already have) 😃

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