• European Union
  • Building Innovations
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  • Building Retrofits

EU Renovation Wave Promises More Efficient Buildings

Daniel Talero
Jul 02, 2020

Connected City 8

European buildings are on the verge of a renovation wave. This is the upshot of a renewed emphasis on building retrofits as part of the European Union’s (EU’s) overarching green recovery plan and as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. The wave will likely happen in September 2020 and aims to triple the current renovation rate, which runs at about 1% of the building stock annually. The retrofit program is expected to receive about $395 billion annually in public and private investment. Subsidies will be offered to building owners for renovations, which will be used to attract further private investment.

Limitless Equipment Vendor Opportunities

Equipment vendors have an opportunity. Documents indicate that priority will go to public sector buildings, especially hospitals and schools, as well as social housing and other forms of low income dwellings. It is reasonable to assume low cost, high impact building envelope improvements will be early, low hanging fruit. R25 insulation, electrochemical window glazing, vegetative roofing, and other new technology have opportunities to scale-up. Heaters and boilers will likely follow since they account for approximately 40% of total EU energy consumption and 79% of total energy use in households. Use cases determine the best systems but many high volume, air-to-water heat pump systems produce hot water nearly 3 times more efficiently than electric resistance systems. The pump systems offer side benefits of space heating and cooling and create additional savings if connected to onsite solar generation.

On the services side, energy service companies have an opportunity to grow market share by assisting Europe’s many large social housing organizations in securing access to financing. Software vendors should also be prepared to assist with energy performance certification, analysis, and improvement scenarios within the renovation planning process.

An Ambitious Plan with Powerful Citizen Outcomes

By focusing on buildings, the EU aims for emissions reductions in a difficult segment. However, by restructuring the effort as economic stimulus, this program could become self-sustainable, scale rapidly, and offer lasting impacts for EU citizens’ socioeconomic statuses.