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Creating an Energy Efficient Mortgage for Europe: Towards a New Market Standard

Report launched during the 9th Annual World Green Building Week (24-30 September 2018), a global campaign raising awareness and promoting the value of greener homes worldwide

Creating an Energy Efficient Mortgage for Europe: Towards a New Market Standard sets out a vision for how mortgage lenders and borrowers can come together to help tackle climate change by improving millions of properties across Europe. The report calls on lenders, industry and government to grow a new mass market for energy efficient mortgages and make them available to every borrower on the continent. The proposed standards are now being tested as part of an EU-backed pilot scheme involving banks and financial institutions representing a combined lending power of over €3 trillion, equal to around 20% of the EU’s GDP.

The report tackles how Europe should finance the building of an energy efficiency revolution needed to slash the 40% of Europe’s carbon emissions that come from its buildings – a staggering 97% of which are inefficient. Estimates show that Europe will miss its climate targets unless it renovates at least 23,000 homes every day until 2050.

The report proposes a new set of standards for property energy performance thresholds that create real reductions in financial and climate risks for mortgage lenders – qualifying borrowers for incentives such as lower mortgage interest rates. The standards have been designed by a coalition of ten national Green Building Councils and are being released as part of World Green Building Week. The report comes at a time when major European banks are increasingly seeking to ensure that their lending and investments, worth hundreds of billions of euros, are compatible with global climate change commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

The report outlines the powerful business case for energy efficient mortgages, explaining how applying the proposed standards reduces risks for both borrowers and lenders by lowering energy bills.  Therefore, borrowers have more financial freedom to meet mortgage repayments and protection against the future devaluation of inefficient buildings in an increasingly carbon-conscious society.

James Drinkwater, Director of WorldGBC’s Europe network said:

“Europeans are well aware of the risks of not upgrading their old polluting cars, but we still lack accessible finance to help property owners upgrade their old polluting homes,” said . “Energy efficient mortgages offer a win-win for banks and borrowers here – lenders, industry and governments need to work together to ensure they reach millions of homeowners.”

The pilot scheme set up to test the proposed standards will provide lenders with the critical information they need to understand how energy use and efficiency improvements impact on mortgage risks. It will also offer insights on how easy it is to apply the proposed standards across multi-billion-euro mortgage businesses.

WorldGBC is working in close partnership with the European Mortgage Federation-European Covered Bond Council and leaders in sustainable finance and energy efficiency to ensure the proposed standards can be widely applied.

Amine Bel Hadj Soulami, Head of Sustainable Investment at BNP Paribas CIB, said:

Sustainable real estate is a key component of the energy transition and shift towards a low carbon economy. BNP Paribas is committed to helping deliver positive sustainable finance solutions, and being part of the WorldGBC’s Energy Efficient Mortgages Initiative is a supportive step forward in tackling the challenges posted by climate change.”

Michael Lewis, UK CEO of E.ON, one of WorldGBC’s European partners added:

“Millions of homeowners are missing out on cost savings, higher property values and more comfortable homes because of a lack of easy-to-access, affordable finance to invest in energy efficiency improvements. Energy efficient mortgages have the potential to be a game changer.”

The report on standards for a new generation of green mortgages is part of WorldGBC’s annual global awareness campaign, World Green Building Week (24–30 September), which is focused this year on the need for greener homes with a theme of #HomeGreenHome.

Read the report here.