Europe’s buildings under the microscope

This document presents a broad picture of the energy performance of European Union building stock and how existing policies influence the situation through a country by country review. It highlights pathways to making the building stock more efficient, in line with the EU 2050 road-map where the end goal is to reduce energy consumption by 80% by 2050.

Key Findings

  • ‘Limiting the thermal conductivity of major construction elements is the most common thermal performance requirement [U-value requirements] for buildings.’
  • ‘The Commission’s analysis from the low carbon road map shows that emissions in the building sector must be reduced by as much as 90% by 2050 if the climate change goals are to be met.’
  • ‘Buildings consume 40% of total final energy requirement in Europe.’

Further Detail

The energy performance of buildings in the EU is so poor the levels of energy consumed mean buildings are one of the most significant sources of Co2. Buildings consume 40% of total final energy requirements in Europe – 27% is from households and 13% from services buildings.

New buildings can be built to higher energy performance standards, however in the UK new residential houses were built at a rate of less than 1% between 2005 and 2010.

Old buildings (pre-1960) make up the largest percentage of buildings in Europe and the UK. The largest energy saving potential is associated with older buildings as the building envelope is inefficiently insulated. Energy in households is mainly consumed by space-heating which consumes roughly 70% across Europe.

The Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) stipulates the implementation of energy saving measures only in case of deep renovation of the building, without specifying the depth of renovation measures. It is clear that more targeted measures are required for fostering the deep renovation of the existing building stock.

To help policy makers determine the appropriate way forward, a renovation model has been specifically developed for this project. The scenarios illustrate the impact on energy use and Co2 emissions at different rates (percentage of buildings renovated each year) and depths of renovation (extent of measures applied and size of resulting energy and emissions reduction) from now up to 2050.

The modelling exercise gives a clear indication that an ambitious renovation strategy for Europe’s buildings is feasible but the rate of renovations needs to increase up to at least 2.5% p.a. for this to be achieved. The paper makes recommendations on what can be done on at a EU and national level in terms of policy.

To read the report click here.

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