[OpEd] Building renovation can provide new momentum to the European project

Politicians often ignore building renovation programmes as low-level politics reserved for energy experts. This is misguided, says Oliver Rapf for Euractiv – as renovation stands at the crux of economic, energy, social and even health policies.

Our buildings are – to a large degree – no longer fit for purpose. 75% of the EU building stock is considered inefficient. Recent data from the European Building Stock Observatory shows that an average of 16% of buildings (ranging to over 30% in some countries) do not provide adequate indoor quality, resulting in high social, economic and environmental costs.

It is high time to make our buildings fit for purpose, and in the process, create local jobs, generate economic growth and reduce fossil fuel dependency.

Without doubt, we need to address this issue urgently, and the ongoing political negotiations on the Clean energy for all Europeans package over the coming months are the once-in-a-decade opportunity to define a framework which creates both clear regulation and a system of incentives to drive deep renovation.

The multiple benefits of renovation are well known: deep renovation leads to energy security, employment creation, reduced air pollution and poverty alleviation, as well as improved health, comfort and productivity.

But the momentum to renovate our buildings is far too sluggish, because the well-documented barriers are not really tackled, and the proposed revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), as currently drafted, will miss the opportunity to change this. Renovation investments should be encouraged at so-called trigger points.

These are events in the life of a building which make it more convenient for owners and tenants to renovate, more cost-effective for investors (who may or may not be the occupant), and more strategic by avoiding problems for later upgrades.

Of course, using a trigger point effectively requires having a good plan in place. An individual building renovation passport provides exactly this plan. It identifies which renovation measures could be taken, in which order and with what investment. As they are tailored to each building, they are not abstract documents but are relevant to people’s particular circumstances.

Read the rest on Euractiv’s website.

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