Renovation Wave: CoR and EU Commission launch cooperation to boost building overhaul

Copyright: Mandoga Media

The partnership between EU, regional and local leaders is key to accelerate the Renovation Wave that can create 160 000 jobs. As much as 75% of buildings are energy inefficient in the EU and only 1% currently undergoes renovation each year. Buildings account for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption and 36% of GHG emissions.

The European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission launched today a cooperation to accelerate the overhaul and decarbonisation of EU building stock. The potential for new jobs, energy savings and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions makes the EU’s building „Renovation Wave“ a key driver to build a robust and sustainable recovery from COVID-19. The partnership aims to support local and regional governments with renewing their building stock. The COVID-19 health crisis has amplified the need to improve living conditions within our buildings and to eradicate energy poverty.

Together with the decarbonisation of the transport sector and the greening of cities, the renovation of the EU’s building stock is a key priority of the European Green Deal, the EU’s growth strategy to reach climate-neutrality by 2050.

Opening a plenary debate on the Renovation Wave with EU commissioner for energy, Kadri Simson, the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, said: „Making our buildings energy efficient will save money, reduce emissions and tackle energy poverty which affects 34 million people in Europe. We need to ensure that local and regional governments are aware of, and have access to, the unprecedented EU budget and recovery and resilience funds available. I am therefore delighted to launch our cooperation between the European Commission and our Committee to support the renovation wave in all our territories“.

Speaking during the debate, Kadri Simson, EU commissioner for energy, said: „Today we have an opportunity to reignite our economy while driving clean energy efforts even further. The Commission will continue to provide various ways of support and technical assistance to the cities and regions so that they can engage with all strands of the society for the dual transition and roll out the Renovation Wave. I am pleased to see the Covenant of Mayors becoming even more inclusive, accessible and ambitious in terms of climate neutrality“.

Juan Espadas (ES/PES), Mayor of Seville and Chair of the CoR’s ENVE commission and Green Deal Going Local working group, said: „The Renovation Wave is a crucial pillar of Europe’s recovery, helping to build back our territories in a better manner, improving our capacity to fight against the climate crisis and, at the same time, taking care of our citizens‘ health and quality of life. As part of this strategy, the New European Bauhaus initiative can be key to give a soul to urban regeneration to radically rethink our neighbourhoods. We must harness the creative potential in our regions and cities and involve citizens in the transformation process to bring the Green Deal closer to them and design a more sustainable future together.“

Enrico Rossi (IT/PES) is the CoR rapporteur on the opinion on the Renovation Wave. The Member of Signa Municipal Council (Florence) and former president of the Tuscany Region (2010-2020), said: „With the Renovation Wave, the EU gives our cities and regions a great opportunity. While before we only focused on individual flats or buildings, now we finally look at neighbourhoods as a whole. This is why we welcome the district approach and the attention for energy communities. The Renovation Wave can also contribute to end energy poverty because it helps citizens to become ‚prosumers‘, so they are able to not only consume but also produce energy. The Green Deal and its Renovation Wave can only be successful if they improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life inside our homes and around our homes, making sure no one is left behind.“

Following the debate, members discussed the numerous proposals included in the CoR’s opinion on the Renovation Wave. The CoR calls for a revision of state aid schemes, more flexible budget rules to maximise investments and renovations, and for the implementation of subnational targets for the renovation of buildings and the integration of renewable energy sources.

The CoR also advocates for strengthening and decentralising the EIB’s ELENA facility by setting-up a One-Stop-Shop to deliver technical assistance to all local and regional authorities and businesses. The opinion urges the European Commission and Member States to fully incorporate the Renovation Wave into the recovery and resilience programmes (RRF) as well as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).