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Renovation Wave - cities and regions ready to deliver  

​ The European Committee of the Regions urges the European Commission and Member States to establish easier and faster financing mechanisms for local and regional authorities to undertake renovation projects

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has unanimously adopted an opinion on the Renovation Wave , the EU's plan to upgrade the energy performance of Europe's building stock. Accounting for 40% of Europe's energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the renovation of buildings is key for the EU to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Cities and regions call for a revision of state aid schemes, more flexible budget rules to maximise investments and renovations, subnational targets for the renovation of buildings and the integration of renewable energy sources in renovation projects.

Following a plenary debate with EU commissioner for energy Kadri Simson, Enrico Rossi (IT/PES) , CoR rapporteur on the opinion on the Renovation Wave , Member of Signa Municipal Council (Florence) and former president of the Tuscany Region (2010-2020), said: "The green recovery begins in our homes. With the Renovation Wave as a fundamental pillar of the Green Deal, we can relaunch our economy, create 160 000 jobs in the building sector, and fight energy poverty, while at the same time meeting our climate neutrality goals. We need to make sure that the resources of the new Multiannual Financial Framework, the Recovery Plan, and the national and regional funds are used in synergy and not diverted to elsewhere. For its success, cities and regions must play a key role. This is why we need concrete tools, such as a local technical assistance facility, accessible to all local and regional authorities for the implementation of the Renovation Wave, along with trainings for workers, in particular in SMEs, to help create more jobs."

The CoR calls on the European Commission and Member States to establish direct financing mechanisms for local and regional authorities to undertake renovation projects. It also urges for the delivery of the announced revision of European state aid schemes for energy efficiency in buildings in order to overcome current investment barriers.

Cities and regions urge the European Commission to work with Member States to establish more flexible budget rules for local and regional administrations so as to enhance their capacity to invest in the renovation of existing buildings and new social housing. It also points out that, in order to implement the Renovation Wave, the Commission and the Member States must provide significant support to the construction sector to overcome gaps in knowledge regarding skills, technology and the retraining of workers.

The Renovation Wave must be supported by a solid technical assistance available to all local and regional authorities. Members advocate for strengthening and decentralising the EIB's ELENA facility by streamlining the model of One-Stop-Shop to deliver technical assistance to all local and regional authorities and businesses.

The CoR opinion urges the European Commission and Member States to fully incorporate the Renovation Wave into the recovery and resilience programmes (RRF) as well as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

Additional CoR proposals to successfully roll-out the Renovation Wave in every territory include:

  • Measures to avoid "renovictions" (evictions by renovation). The European Commission and all levels of governments must avoid that renovation costs are passed on to the tenants and proposes rent increases to be balanced by energy-savings.
  • The CoR calls on the European Commission to require that the Member States give local and regional authorities a full and effective role in preparing and acting on their national recovery and resilience plans by developing effective multilevel climate and energy dialogues.
  • The renovation wave must be equally deployed to less urbanised, more outlying areas, including rural communities.
  • To foster circular processes in the building sector and strengthen certification mechanisms that encourage the selection of construction materials and techniques based on their lifecycle.
  • Strengthen local energy communities and the "prosumer" through decentralised energy production and incentives to develop the "warm rent" model – the basic principle applied in Sweden and Finland – whereby property owners are encouraged to save energy while guaranteeing a suitable indoor environment.
  • Extend the analysis of energy poverty beyond individual households and use the model of "environmentally-friendly manufacturing areas" as a useful reference for involving the manufacturing industry in the Renovation Wave.
  • Provide significant support to the construction sector, which has been severely affected by the crisis and often involves small businesses.
  • More ambitious efforts to decarbonise residential heating and cooling, which is responsible for more than 80% of the overall energy consumption of buildings in the EU.
  • Members welcome the Climate Pact and commit to support its roll-out, in particular by involving citizens. The CoR recognises the fundamental role of the Climate Pact to guarantee that the Renovation Wave is deployed effectively, and that capacity and tools are available to local and regional authorities.
  • Members call on the European Commission to continue promoting the deployment of energy management systems and Building Information Modeling (BIM).
  • Develop a systematic application of Green Public Procurement criteria for the buildings' sector to bring about a rapid reduction in energy consumption and ensure the broad take-up of more sustainable management models.
  • Data on buildings' energy consumption should be readily available free of charge across the entire EU.
  • Set subnational targets for the integration of renewable energy sources in buildings.
  • The CoR endorses the proposal for a Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI) to assess the degree to which buildings are ready for the integration of smart technologies and to inform building owners and occupants of the findings.
  • To update the energy performance certificate (EPC) framework so as to increase the proportion of the building stock covered by energy performance certificates.
  • The legislative requirements for purchasing and renovating all existing public buildings, minimum energy performance standards and mandatory targets for annual renovation rates need to be flexible to account for the different building characteristics and circumstances in every territory.

Background Information

It is estimated that between 34 and 50 million European citizens suffer from energy poverty. The CoR opinion on the Renovation Wave includes a proposal to the European Commission and Member States to calculate energy poverty at the subregional level.

While 75% of existing buildings in the EU are considered energy inefficient, only 1% currently undergo renovation each year. It is estimated that the Renovation Wave can create an additional 160 000 jobs in the construction sector by 2030.

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 ).

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 hinder their capacity to invest more in energy efficient projects.

The renovation of buildings is a key priority of Green Deal Going Local (GDGL), a new initiative of the European Committee of the Regions, which aims to place cities and regions at the core of the EU's transition towards climate-neutrality. Green Deal Going Local was launched on 15 June 2020 with the creation of a specific Working Group composed of 13 members . Read the press release here. Discover 200 Green Deal best practices in our online map.


David Crous

+32 (0) 470 88 10 37

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