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?
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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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