MEPs advocate boost in building renovations amid climate push

On Wednesday 15 December, MEPs proposed measures to improve energy performance of buildings to help the sector deliver emission reductions and contribute to EU climate goals.

The non-binding report adopted with 526 votes to 109, and 62 abstentions sets out recommendations ahead of the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings directive (EPBD) which aims to boost the improvement of the existing building stock. The EPBD is crucial to delivering successfully on the Renovation wave and emissions reduction, they say. Member States should implement the Directive fully and the Commission should monitor the situation and take action, where necessary.

MEPs recall the importance of putting in place adequate incentives for the renovation of buildings as well as financial measures conditional on energy efficiency improvements and energy savings. They highlight the importance of clear and accurate information on energy performance and energy costs for prospective buyers and prospective tenants. They call for improving Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) across EU Member States.

MEPs believe that the revision of the EPBD should serve to further promote smart buildings technologies and foster a data-centric approach. They believe it will be important to create a framework to leverage the use of data to improve transparency, develop benchmarks and guide policy decisions as well as reduce actual energy consumption.

As reported in the adopted document, MEPs supported the use of sustainable, innovative and non-toxic construction materials and highlights the importance of strengthening the circularity of building materials by implementing or creating a circular economy labelling system based on environmental standards and specific criteria for certain materials; notes that further research is required into sustainable materials and sustainable processes; highlights that wood-based materials can play a role in substituting fossil-based alternatives in the construction of buildings and highlights their long-term carbon storage potential.

In spite to the reference to material neutrality, this EP resolution is well balanced and qui favourable especially with Points 12 & 13 as already highlighted following the vote at Committee level. Unfortunately, this document comes out on the same day as the publication of the EPBD Recast package and is therefore too late to influence the content of the Commission proposal. Nevertheless, it will be a strong point of reference for the upcoming negotiations on the Proposal for a recast Directive on the energy performance of buildings (COM(2021)802 final).

A labelling system for construction materials

MEPs also support the use of sustainable, innovative and non-toxic construction materials as well as strengthening the circularity of building materials and propose a labelling system. Wood-based materials can also play a role in substituting fossil-based ones in buildings due to their long-term carbon storage potential, they say.

They recall that Long Term Renovation Strategies, which are set out by Member States under the directive, should in future also include the wider benefits of renovations like health, safety, thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Member States should also improve data collection on indoor environmental quality parameters, with a view to developing minimum quality standards.

The EPBD should ensure that renovation delivers return on investment for homeowners and building owners by establishing real and measured improvements in energy performance. One-stop shops can play a big role in addressing the issue of long and cumbersome permitting procedures as well as fostering access to funding for building renovation.

Source and further information: EU Parliament 

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