EU Agreement to Reduce Emissions, Energy Use in European Buildings

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by | Dec 11, 2023

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A provisional agreement has been reached between the European Parliament and the Council to reduce energy consumption and emissions in buildings across the European Union, the European Commission announced. 

The agreement strengthens the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the EU’s main legislative vehicle to promote energy improvement in buildings within the EU. It also supports Europe’s energy independence in line with the REPowerEU Plan, which aims to decrease Europe’s dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels. Buildings in the EU account for roughly 40% of total emissions.

The agreement specifically includes measures that will help EU governments boost the structural energy performance of buildings and put the worst-performing buildings in the spotlight. Namely, each member will adopt their national trajectory to reduce the average primary energy use of residential buildings by 16% by 2030, and another 20%-22% by 2035. The agreement includes flexibility to account for national circumstances. In addition, the directive specifies at least 55% of the energy use savings is achieved through renovation of the worst-performing buildings. 

Non-residential building stock is required to improve via minimum energy performance standards, renovating the 16% worst-performing buildings by 2030 and the 26% worst-performing buildings by 2033.

“Improving the energy performance of buildings is vital for reaching our ambition of climate-neutrality and will bring concrete benefits to our citizens,” Kadri Simson, European commissioner for energy, said in a statement. “Renovations are investments into a better future. They will improve quality of life, allow people to invest their savings elsewhere, and boost our economy. I trust this agreement will allow to spur a renovation wave across the whole Union, while respecting the diversity of the EU’s building stock.”

Financial Incentives, Renovation Strategies Included in the Agreement

The deal also incentivizes financing and contains tenant safeguards to tackle the risk of evictions of vulnerable households caused by rent increases due to renovations.

Member states are also directed to establish national building renovation plans with the new strategy to decarbonize their building stock, including addressing the barriers like financing, training and attracting more skilled workers.

The plan also will help the EU phase-out boilers powered by fossil fuels over time, cutting off subsidies for boilers using fossil fuels beginning Jan. 1, 2025.

The agreement requires formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council before the legislation is published in the Official Journal of the Union and implemented.

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