The new 55% target for energy efficiency: is it feasible?
Can we reach the new goal of 55% of energy reduction? Of course, we can but we need to set a clear path for local governments to transform goals into executive actions. At Eurima (European Insulation Manufacturers Association) we believe in three main areas key to help all actors to achieve this goal.
On September 16, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen pushed everybody's energy efficiency hopes a little further: she increased the emission reduction target from 40 to 55% in a laudable attempt to turn the European continent into the leader of the new circular economy.
Those of us who work in the energy efficiency sector are celebrating this sign of a long-term commitment; at last! What's more, the necessary resources are available to EU member countries. But we have to admit to mixed feelings: on the one hand, we welcome this very positive change for all, but on the other, we wonder how we are going to update and transform the majority of the buildings in which European citizens live and work.
It's a fact that 75% of buildings consume 35% of the energy in the European Union, so at the current 1% rate of renovation we will need a little more than 30 years to achieve the EU's objective.
This goal definitely moves us in the right direction, but the change needed is much deeper than it seems. It is not just a shift towards a more sustainable economy, but a deep change in our society as we understand it. It is about the reusing of resources, the redesign of production processes to reduce energy consumption, and changes to our way of living and consuming. And for this, we need to reconsider the role that our building stock plays, and that it is more than 50 years old and needs a total and absolute renovation.
The main issue is that this change will depend on local governments, and it seems that not all understand the urgency of aligning their policies and actions with the EU in terms of timing and technical requirements. Action must be taken now. Every year, almost every day that passes, is lost time.
At URSA, as members of EURIMA (European Insulation Manufacturers Association), we believe there are three fundamental areas that should guide recovery and profound change.
- First, it is important to strengthen legislation through a strategy that imposes stricter parameters for existing buildings. Minimum energy performance requirements must be established, not only by making energy certification mandatory in order to rent or sell, but by standardizing the mandatory minimum energy needs. The proposal from EURIMA is that all priorities, strategies and minimum requirements be established before the next revision of the Energy Performance Buildings Directive, when the specific legislation must be defined to achieve the objectives.
- Financing is key. Although a specific amount has been allocated to member countries, it will take a long time before it reaches the executive track. Many countries are overwhelmed, trapped by their different organizations and by a lack of guidance when establishing financing programs to carry out the renovation of buildings (which should be one of the key sectors in achieving the 55% objective). In addition, we must create a stable economic environment that attracts more institutional investment.
- And, finally, EURIMA wants the European Commission to provide consultancy support for local government projects to help create and develop programs that increase the participation of all actors. The more widely the initiatives are known, the easier it will be to deploy resources to improve renovation projects.
The objectives are achievable, but it is necessary to set out a clear and direct path so that all those responsible for renovation can focus on the improvement of building stock. The excess of bureaucracy, the lack of vision and expertise of local governments, and the lack of knowledge of the key factors at play here are obstacles that must be overcome if the “fit to 55” objective is really to be achieved.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn in October 2020.
- Building Renovation
- Circular Economy
- Climate change
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- Deep renovation
- Energy efficiency
- ETEX Group
- Green Deal
- Healthy Buildings
- Healthy homes
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- Mineral wool
- renewable energy
- Renovation Wave
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- Thermal insulation
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- United Nations Global Compact
- We are URSA
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- Xella Group
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