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REPowerEU: WorldGBC’s reaction

On 18 May 2022, the European Commission released ‘REPowerEU’, an action plan prepared in the wake of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine that aims to bolster the EU’s energy security and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

Last month, WorldGBC released a blog by our Europe Director, Stephen Richardson, calling for RePowerEU to recognise how accelerating building renovation can massively reduce the EU’s energy consumption.

Today, we look at some of the measures that have been included in the REPowerEU plan that could improve the sustainability of Europe’s built environment.

Among the principal announcements in RePowerEU are steps towards decreasing dependency on Russian fossil fuels, accelerating energy efficiency and the EU’s share of renewable energy over the next eight years, as well as the implementation of more rooftop solar panels and heat pumps.

Buildings in REPowerEU

REPowerEU recognises that saving energy is the quickest and cheapest way to address the current crisis.

Among the measures announced is the increase of the binding target of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) for 2030 from 9% to 13%.

The plan also calls on the European Parliament to enable additional energy efficiency gains in buildings through the ongoing revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Alongside this, REPowerEU encourages member states to implement supporting measures including reducing VAT rates for building insulation and high efficiency energy systems.

Recognising an urgent need to accelerate a move away from Russian fossil fuels, the plan also increases the target of the Renewable Energy Directive last year. The new goal is for renewables to supply 45% of the EU’s energy by 2030, up from 40%.

As part of this aim to boost renewables, a key role has been identified for buildings in two main ways.

The new European Solar Rooftops Initiative will make the installation of rooftop solar panels Compulsory for all new residential buildings by 2029, with earlier timelines for large public and commercial buildings.

The Commission has also set a target to double the current deployment rate of heat pumps, totalling 10 million units over the next 5 years.

WorldGBC’s reaction to the action plan

WorldGBC supports the European Commission’s focus in REPowerEU on improving energy efficiency and the fundamental importance of reducing energy usage in the EU to address the current crisis. WorldGBC looks forward to seeing how the increased energy efficiency target will translate into further and accelerated action on decarbonising buildings in the EPBD and EED.

It is also encouraging that REPowerEU specifically invites the European Parliament and EU Council to use the current revision of the EPBD to enable additional energy savings from buildings, as well as calling on EU states to take action at the national level to make buildings more energy-efficient.

WorldGBC also supports REPowerEU’s increased renewables target of 45% by 2030, and the intention to make Europe’s buildings a key part of this transition through the European Solar Rooftops Initiative and the accelerated deployment of heat pumps.

Achieving all this will require robust planning and adequate investment to ensure the industry has the capacity to deliver. Our network of 22 Green Building Councils, representing around 4,500 businesses and organisations across the built environment sector, is ready to work with the Commission and Member States to help implement REPowerEU.