Our buildings need to be ready for the changing climate

The European Commission wants us to start a renovation wave for our buildings and it considers that the national long-term renovation strategies are an important input to the ‘renovation wave’ initiative announced as part of the European Green Deal. While they were due early March, only six Member States have submitted their strategies and of those only two are in English. 

This is an unacceptable situation and there is no excuse, not even the current coronavirus crisis, why MS have not produced them and taken the first steps to ambitiously implement them. 

The idea of a renovation wave is very good and it reminds me of the famous woodblock print from Japan by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai entitled The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

To get ready for the next steps, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe has recently published an action plan. Now let’s turn that wave into a “great wave” We have a lot to do by 2050 to ride the crest of the wave and not get drowned in the trough.


BPIE publishes Action Plan to support economic recovery and launch a renovation wave for Europe’s buildings

The Buildings Performance Institute Europe, has released its latest publication, “An Action Plan  for  the  renovation  wave: collectively  achieving  sustainable buildings in Europe.” The  publication sets  forth  a  strategy to deliver climate-neutrality  for Europe’s buildings by  2050 while  supporting  economic  recovery  post  Covid-19. The “renovation wave” for buildings was first proposed by the European Commission’s Communication on the European Green Deal in December 2019.

BPIE’s Action Plan provides evidence-based recommendations for all actors across the value chain of the building sector, including: EU institutions, Member States and local authorities, market actors such as retail and commercial banks,  institutional investors, building designers, architects and engineers, manufacturers  of  building  materials and  technologies,  construction  companies  (multinationals  and SMEs), real estate developers, suppliers of electricity and fuels, and building and home owners.

“As we are confronted by the Corona crisis it is time to consider combined responses to our biggest challenges. We can address climate change and support the economic recovery at the same time, e.g. by getting serious about launching a renovation wave. This would be a collective effort which creates better living conditions for all,” says Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of BPIE. “While policy-makers have a decisive responsibility in leading the transformation of the building sector, everyone has a role to play. Actions across sectors must be aligned, working towards a united vision.”

Rapf continues, “we are anticipating a complete transformation. Not in the form of a shock but as a well-prepared  integrative  process: construction  and  renovation  practices,  the  way  buildings  are integrated  with  power  and  heat  networks,  strategies  to  make  buildings  resilient  to  the  impacts  of climate  change, the  use  of  digital  technologies,  how  renovations  are  financed  and  many  other practices will need to evolve compared to today’s standards.”

The European Commission is expected to deliver a detailed “renovation wave” strategy by the third quarter  of  2020.The  building  sector represents  significant potential  for  economic  growth, CO2 emissions reductions, and improved quality of life. It is responsible for 40% of Europe’s energy demandand36% of CO2 emissions.

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