The European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission join forces to accelerate the retrofitting of public and private buildings in local and regional communities across the EU
The renovation of the EU's building stock is key to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and to boost employment in the post COVID-19 recovery. While 75% of existing buildings in the EU are considered energy inefficient, only 1% currently undergoes renovation each year. Buildings account for 40% of Europe's energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). It is estimated that the Renovation Wave can create an additional 160 000 jobs in the construction sector by 2030. The COVID-19 health crisis has amplified the need to improve our buildings and to eradicate energy poverty, which still affects some 40 million citizens in the EU.
In a session entitled Financing the Renovation Wave, EU representatives, local and regional leaders, and experts from across the EU discussed the challenges and funding opportunities for cities and regions to speed up the retrofitting of building stocks. The Renovation Wave aims to remove barriers for building renovations, such as structural and administrative obstacles, investments shortages, market failures, regulatory barriers and lack of expertise.
Opening the debate, Juan Espadas (ES/PES), Mayor of Seville and Chair of the CoR's ENVE commission and Green Deal Going Local working group, said: "Today we know that a big part of fighting the climate crisis has to come from fixing our building stock. The Renovation Wave, as a crucial pillar of the European Green Deal, represents the occasion to make our public buildings, like schools and hospitals, social housing, and our homes more sustainable, green and energy-efficient. Financing this wide urban revolution is indispensable for its success, but it is not just an issue of funds. We need to keep climate and social goals together, to make sure that no people or territories are left behind."
The former president of the Tuscany Region (2010-2020), Enrico Rossi (IT/PES), CoR Rapporteur on the Renovation Wave (opinion factsheet) and Member of Signa Municipal Council (Florence), said: "17% of Europeans live in overcrowded houses and there are at least 34 million citizens suffering from energy poverty. The Renovation Wave must increase solidarity, social inclusion and combat poverty by increasing investments in energy efficient public and social housing. The effects of the health crisis on the economy are extremely serious. Boosting public investment in the construction sector has a key role to play in accompanying the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."
The CoR draft opinion on the Renovation Wave is to be adopted at the next ENVE commission meeting on 1 February, with the final text scheduled for adoption during the plenary session in March 2021.
Vlasta Krmelj (SI/EPP), Mayor of Selnica ob Dravi, vice-president of the Financing and Investments Working Group of FEDARENE and director at ENERGAP stressed that "energy agencies across Europe stand ready to translate the Renovation Wave into concrete programmes that leverage massive investments. They are market facilitators with public mandates, providing technical assistance to municipalities, regions, companies and citizens, having the ability to connect stakeholders and governance levels. They have competence and expertise for buildings, technology, value chains as well as experience in structuring financing models with multiple funding streams."
Mikel Irujo (ES/EA), Director-General for External Action of the Government of Navarre, declared: "Our experience in the energy efficiency partnership of the Urban Agenda is very positive. Some of the measures we have put forward have been taken into account by the European Commission proposal on the Renovation Wave, such as the need to create a 'one stop shop' to empower citizens to actively participate in the sustainable energy transition."
Guest speakers included a member of the cabinet of EU Commissioner for energy Kadri Simson and representatives from DG ENER, DG REGIO and EASME amongst others. The EIB representative recalled that public investments would not be sufficient to fill the existing energy efficiency investment gap. Last week, the CoR and the EIB renewed its cooperation with a joint Action Plan for 2021.
All EU Member States are to establish national long-term renovation strategies as an integral part of their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). The success of national renovation strategies vastly depends on the cooperation with local and regional authorities: they often own or manage large building stocks and are responsible for one third of public spending and two thirds of public investments in the EU. Regrettably, a recent consultation (January 2021) from the CoR and the CEMR points out that 'many EU governments are excluding regions and cities from the preparation of post-COVID recovery plans.'
Financing the Renovation Wave is a Green Deal Going Local event. As part of the CoR's 'building resilient communities' priority, Green Deal Going Local (GDGL) is an initiative which aims at placing cities and regions at the core of the European Green Deal and ensure that both the EU's sustainable growth strategy and the COVID-19 recovery plans translate into direct funding for cities and regions and tangible projects for every territory. Green Deal Going Local was launched on 15 June 2020 with the creation of a specific Working Group composed of 13 members. In order to inspire and accelerate action, Green Deal Going Local includes an online map with 200 best practices.
The Renovation Wave was launched on 14 October 2020 through the European Commission Communication 'A Renovation Wave for Europe - greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives'. It is a key pillar of the European Green Deal roadmap.
The Renovation Wave aims to remove barriers for building renovations. The Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) has identified six types of barriers: structural barriers, information barriers, market failures, lack of expertise, a combination of factors making it difficult to aggregate projects and/or carry out more efficient district approaches, and regulatory barriers. All these obstacles directly affect local and regional authorities and hinders their capacity to invest more in energy efficient projects.
Together with the decarbonisation of the transport sector and the greening of cities, the renovation of the EU's building stock is a key Green Deal priority. Not only due to its potential ability to reduce both energy use and CO2 emissions, but also as a driver for sustainable growth and job creation. The construction sector is the largest generator of jobs per million euros invested (IEA 2020).
This week, the PES group of the European Committee of the Regions is hosting a series of events under the title 'Housing for All: Time for Europe to Deliver'.
+32 (0) 470 88 10 37