Renovation Revolution Born to Increase Energy Efficiency

Aiming to transform building renovation in Europe, Renovation Revolution will address the urgent need to make buildings more energy efficient in the EU

The Climate Group — an award-winning, international non-profit specialising in climate and energy initiatives — is warning that the EU must take immediate action and renovate millions of buildings on a yearly basis to meet its 2050 net zero target.

With reaching net zero by 2050 in EU law, renovation rates to make buildings more energy efficient are around 1% each year across the union. As a result of this, the EU has less than six years to get to the 2.5% annual renovation rate that the IEA mandates has to be achieved by 2030 to remain on track.

In partnership with CBRE, Danfoss, ROCKWOOL, Signify and VELUX, the warning aligns with the launch of Renovation Revolution, a new initiative to drive up European deep renovation rates, with Renovate Europe acting as a knowledge partner on the project.

What is Renovation Revolution?

With buildings responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, Renovation Revolution has been established to work with companies, sub-national governments and environmental sector NGOs to research how renovation rates can be upped, to implement energy-efficient innovations and scale up efficiency in buildings across the continent.

Climate Group is firm in the belief that increasing renovation rates improves energy security, saves money, creates jobs, and improves health and well-being, but financial barriers, regulatory hurdles and the differing priorities of landlords and tenants can often put a stop to this meaningful action.

Renovation Revolution has made it a key mission to mitigate these challenges and take advantage of presented opportunities to make constant, meaningful change.

“Europe needs a renovation revolution,” declared Toby Morgan, Senior Manager of Built Environment at Climate Group. “We're pleased to unveil this new project shortly after European nations spearheaded a global call to action on energy efficiency at COP28. With elections in Europe in 2024, the hard work starts now.

“Dragging up desperately low renovation rates in Europe is critical to improving energy efficiency in the built environment. Governments and corporations must support cities, businesses, communities and citizens to open their toolboxes and begin a renovation revolution.”

What are the energy efficiency benefits of renovating existing buildings?

The European Environment Agency also stresses that improving the energy performance of buildings is an important part of reaching the EU’s climate, energy and air pollution targets. 

Its 2023 briefing identifies behavioural factors that influence decisions on renovation investment and how understanding these factors can inform the design of policies that more effectively encourage the renovation of residential buildings, contributing to achieving climate neutrality. Despite it demanding considerable investment, the energy renovation rate needs to at least double from its current level.

The report advocates that by considering human and behavioural factors in policy design, policymakers can better account for the drivers of and barriers to investment in renovation. 

“Renovating our buildings is a huge opportunity to reduce emissions, save energy and cost and increase comfort,” added Philippe Duchêne, Vice President and Head of Residential and Commercial Buildings at Danfoss Climate Solutions. “Technologies are readily available. Many of them, such as building controls, thermostats or hydronic balancing of our heating systems, can be implemented fast and come with very short payback times. Replacing gas boilers with heat pumps or connecting to a district heating network are further big steps to decarbonise our buildings. There is no need to wait. We can start immediately.”

Julie Kjestrup, Head of Policy and Thought Leadership at VELUX continued: “Renovating Europe’s building stock is an essential part of the puzzle for Europe’s resilient future — to reach climate neutrality, increase energy security, lower energy bills, drive jobs and growth and improve the health and well-being of citizens.”

This is echoed by Mirella A. Vitale, Senior Vice President, ROCKWOOL Group, who said: “The good news is building renovation doesn’t need a technological breakthrough. It’s about scaling up good programmes and policies already working across Europe, investing more in local production and jobs, and making it easier for people and businesses to access funding.”

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