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Last edited 21 May 2021
Renovation Wave Strategy RWS
In October 2020, the European Commission published its Renovation Wave Strategy for improving the energy performance of buildings. The purpose of the Strategy is to double renovation rates (at the very least) by 2030 in the EU and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency.
The hope is that this measure will enhance the quality of life for people living in and using buildings, reduce Europe's greenhouse gas emissions, foster digitalisation and improve the reuse and recycling of materials. By 2030, 35 million buildings could be renovated and up to 160,000 additional green jobs created in the construction sector.
COVID-19 put a new focus on buildings and their importance in the daily lives of the people who use them. Throughout the pandemic, the home has been the focal point of daily life for millions who have been asked to work from home (WFH) and homeschool.
As more people spend time at home, it has become apparent that investing in these buildings may inject additional funds into the construction sector and related aspects of the economy. Renovation works are labour intensive, create jobs and investment rooted in local supply chains, generate demand for highly energy-efficient equipment, increase climate resilience and bring long-term value to properties.
To achieve the minimal 55% emissions reduction target for 2030 (proposed in September 2020 by the European Commission), the EU must reduce buildings' greenhouse gas emissions by 60%, their energy consumption by 14% and the energy consumption of heating and cooling by 18%.
 Energy consumption and energy poverty
European policy and funding has had a positive impact on the energy efficiency of new buildings which now consume only half the energy of those built before 2000. However, 85% of buildings in the EU were built before 2000, and 85% to 95% are expected to remain in use in 2050. The Renovation Wave is needed to bring them up to similar standards.
Buildings are responsible for about 40% of the EU's energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions from energy. But only 1% of buildings undergo energy efficient renovation every year, so effective action is crucial to making Europe climate-neutral by 2050.
 Specifics of the Renovation Wave Strategy
- Decarbonising heating and cooling;
- Tackling energy poverty and poorest performing buildings; and
- Renovating public buildings such as schools, hospitals and administrative buildings.
The Commission seeks to dismantle obstacles throughout the renovation chain – from the conception of a project to its funding and completion - with a set of policy measures, funding tools and technical assistance instruments.
Actions will include:
- Creating stronger regulations, standards and information for the energy performance of buildings to establish incentives for public and private sector renovations, including the gradual introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings, updated rules for Energy Performance Certificates and a possible extension of building renovation requirements for the public sector.
- Ensuring accessible and well targeted funding, including through parts of the Recovery and Resilience Facility under NextGenerationEU, simplified rules for combining different funding streams and multiple incentives for private financing.
- Increasing the ability to undertake renovation projects, including training and skills development for workers in new green jobs.
- Expanding the market for sustainable construction products and services, including the integration of new materials and environmentally friendly solutions and revised legislation on the marketing of construction products and material reuse and recovery targets.
- Launching a New European Bauhaus, an interdisciplinary project managed by a panel of external experts including scientists, architects, designers, artists, planners and other representatives of civil society.
- Developing neighbourhood-based approaches for local communities to integrate renewable and digital solutions and create zero-energy districts, where consumers sell excess energy back to the grid. The strategy also includes an Affordable Housing Initiative for 100 districts.
The Renovation Wave is not only about making existing buildings more energy efficient and climate neutral, it may form the basis of a broader evolution of cities and the built environment in a manner that blends sustainability with style. The hope is that this New European Bauhaus will combine performance with inventiveness to produce liveable, sustainable, affordable environments that are accessible to all.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- A decade for heat pumps.
- BPIE report urges EU to incorporate the carbon footprint of construction into policy.
- Carbon emissions in the built environment.
- COVID-19 and the global heat pump market.
- Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
- EU Referendum - Environmental and climate change consequences for the built environment.
- Fuel poverty.
- Greenhouse gases.
- Making Mission Possible: report on achieving a zero-carbon economy by 2030.
- Measuring fuel poverty.
- Net zero carbon 2050.
- New European Bauhaus.
- European Commission, A Renovation Wave for Europe - greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives.
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