By Audrey Nugent, WorldGBC Director of Global Advocacy
Representing around 5,000 members in over 20 European countries, the WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network (WorldGBC Europe) urges EU policy makers to support an ambitious revision of the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) that will:
- Tackle climate change and deliver better quality buildings
- Create 3.3 million green jobs in the EU each year
- Decrease dependence on Russian gas
- Bring 35 million EU citizens out of energy poverty
Buildings account for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions, which incorporates both operational carbon from when a building is in use, and embodied carbon, arising from a building’s construction, demolition and wider supply chain. Meeting the EU’s climate change obligations under the Paris Agreement, including the EU Green Deal’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and Fit for 55, requires a robust and ambitious policy framework that recognises both the impact and potential of buildings.
European policymakers must not shy away from their responsibility and should support an ambitious upgrade to the EPBD. This requires a strong set of measures to ensure the renovation of Europe’s large quantity of old and inefficient buildings, and that new buildings are built to optimally low carbon standards.
The energy crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine only makes this EPBD revision more crucial and timely. Renovating buildings is the sustainable solution to protect European citizens from rapidly rising energy costs, alongside many other benefits. In fact, in its REPowerEU plan to tackle the energy crisis and reduce European demand for Russian gas, the European Commission actually called on the European Parliament and Council to “enable additional savings and energy efficiency gains in buildings” through the ongoing EPBD revision.
It is therefore especially troubling to learn that fundamental aspects of the European Commission’s December 2021 proposal for the EPBD revision could be under threat. Now is the time for the ambition of the EPBD to be raised, in recognition of the role of buildings and building renovation as a solution to a range of issues, from tackling energy poverty to job creation and attaining the EU’s long term climate goals required under the Paris Agreement.
WorldGBC calls on MEPs and EU Council members to ensure that the EPBD revision safeguards and supports the following five key elements:
- Minimum Energy Performance Standards
Recognise that Minimum Energy Performance Standards are a key instrument to drive building renovation, which can accelerate both the rate and depth of renovation across the EU.
- The Zero Emission Building standard
Define clearly what constitutes a Zero Emission Building and clarify that this definition will take into account both operational and embodied carbon, covering the Whole Life Carbon (WLC) impact of buildings.
- Strengthened Energy Performance Certificates
Strengthen and harmonise Energy Performance Certificates across the EU so that they can support the vision of a zero emission building stock by 2050.
- Building Renovation Passports
Recognise the potential of Building Renovation Passports as a tool to set out a pathway to a decarbonised building stock, and their potential to capture the multiple benefits of renovation.
- Whole Life Carbon reporting
Support the inclusion of WLC reporting metrics, which should be brought forward in time to inform the establishment of WLC targets and benchmarks.
WorldGBC Europe and its network of building stakeholders, who represent the full breadth of the value chain, support this high level of ambition. We are ready to work collaboratively with policymakers to implement these solutions and ensure the success of this revision of the EPBD.