The Renovation Wave sets the right direction, but falls short on the needed ambition

Energy transition

The European Commission’s comprehensive plan on how to increase energy renovations across the EU, dubbed the Renovation Wave, provides – finally – a strong recognition of the important role of tackling emissions from the building sector. However, doubling the renovation rate of our guzzling houses and offices will not be sufficient to ensure healthy, energy-efficient and carbon-free buildings for all. 

“We have to at least triple and deepen the yearly renovation rate, ensuring that buildings contribute to the EU reducing emissions by at least 65% by 2030 and so to reach climate neutrality in line with the Paris Agreement’s commitment,” said Buildings Policy Coordinator of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Edoardo Concari Coppola.

While addressing different aspects of the issue, such as the need for regulatory measures, technical and financial support and funding, the strategy needs to be followed up with concrete actions and implemented with more ambition than what we have been presented today.

Our buildings emit more than a third of EU carbon dioxide emissions and account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption (1). While it is estimated that most of the existing buildings will still be in use in 2050, the EU’s annual energy renovation rate is stuck at 1% (2).

“Without a deep and faster upgrade, the EU’s climate neutrality objective is undermined, as this goal cannot be reached without tackling excessive energy consumption and emissions from the building stock. On top of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building renovations ensure better living conditions by reducing energy bills and improving the health and comfort of our homes and offices, while being a key driver of the economic recovery,” added Concari Coppola.

We spend 90% of our time indoors. Improving the energy performance of our buildings is a necessity for the sake of our health, the economy and our future. The cost of inaction for the EU alone is estimated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre at 175 billion euros a year (equaling 1.4% of GDP) for the 3°C world we are heading towards with current policies.

“The Renovation Wave is a chance to finally have a comprehensive approach towards Europe’s building stock. Now we must move fast from political will to action, following up on the strategy with an increased ambition in next year’s planned measures. This includes securing mandatory minimum energy performance standards to improve the worst-performing parts of the stock in the upcoming legislative revisions, while making sure that public buildings lead by example” concluded, Concari Coppola.

Note to the editor:

The legislative actions foreseen in 2021 include the revision of key energy legislation: Energy Efficiency Directive, Renewable Energy Directive and Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

  2. The civil-society led energy scenario (Paris Agreement Compatible (PAC) scenario) shows that increasing the annual renovation rate of the EU’s building stock from 1% to 3% is crucial for reducing the building sector’s energy demand by roughly two thirds between 2015 and 2050.


Cristina Dascalu, communications coordinator,




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