Press releases

Energy-related Renovations of Europe’s Building Stock Must Accelerate

Published: 13/08/2012

Brussels/Utrecht, 13 August 2012 – The cost of energy consumed during a building’s lifetime can be two-thirds of the construction cost. But across Europe, potential savings from energy-efficiency renovations have been largely ignored. There is little evidence that the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has changed behaviour, according to a recently published report from Ecofys.  If the number of major energy-related renovations to European buildings does not accelerate dramatically, it is clear from the data in the ‘Panorama of the European non-residential construction sector’ report that the European Union’s goal of an almost carbon-neutral building stock by 2050 is not achievable.

Massive Latent Construction and Renovation Demand

In December 2010, the Directive’s minimum energy performance standards for new buildings and major renovations were extended to buildings of all sizes in the non-residential sector. “We believe that energy-related renovations could become a major source of revenue for Europe’s construction sector if the extension of the Directive finally begins to change behaviour”, says Thomas Boermans, Unit Manager Buildings at Ecofys. “We have found massive latent demand for all categories of private sector buildings, especially in the fast-growing economies of East and South East Europe”, he continues. According to the report, much of the existing non-residential building stock is due for renovation. In Spain, since the end of the boom, the construction sector is surviving on renovation work. A major increase in energy performance-related renovations would be very welcome.

‘The Panorama of the European non-residential construction sector’ report is a unique inventory of the European Union’s non-residential building stock and its lifetime costs. Within its inventory, the report delves into the detailed construction, operational and demolition costs of office, health buildings in five countries that are representative of their geographic regions: Northern Europe (Sweden), Western Europe (Germany), Southern Europe (Spain), North Eastern Europe (Poland), and South Eastern Europe (Hungary).

Practicality Test for Legislation

The comprehensive inventory of non-residential building stock provides a useful analysis tool that will enable policy makers to test the practicality of some of their legislative goals.  For instance, the data in the report suggests that the Directive’s renewable energy generation goals for the non-residential building sector are not achievable.

The data enables a calculation of the roof space of Europe’s non-residential sector. It is surprisingly small. Packed together, Europe’s total non-residential building stock would not cover the province of Flanders in Belgium. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive sets out a goal that the energy needs of the sector should be met by renewable energy sources “on-site or nearby”. Even if the roof of every non-residential building in Europe was completely covered with PV panels, the energy needs of the buildings would not be met. More remote sources of renewable energy will be needed to meet the buildings’ needs.

Leonardo Energy: A global community for sustainable energy professionals
Leonardo ENERGY is an initiative managed by the European Copper Institute (ECI) and its network of 11 offices, dedicated to building information centres to serve designers, engineers, regulators, general managers, contractors, architects, teachers, and students who are professionally involved with electrical energy. Through various projects, including the award-winning Leonard Power Quality Initiative, over 170 partners from leading academic institutions and industry engage with Leonardo ENERGY. Its website delivers a range of virtual libraries on a broad range of electrical energy related topics providing users with regularly updated articles, application notes, white papers, reports, and interactive training.

Ecofys – Experts in Energy
Established in 1984 with the vision of achieving “sustainable energy for everyone”, Ecofys has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets as well as energy & climate policies. The unique synergy between those areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and the US, Ecofys employs over 250 experts dedicated to solving energy and climate challenges.

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