EU Parliament calls for strict energy saving targets for residential buildings

EU Parliament calls for strict energy saving targets for residential buildings

Dhe figures speak for themselves: Buildings are responsible for 40 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the world EU. If the EU wants to achieve its climate goals, there is no way around a thorough renovation of residential and office buildings – especially since most of the more than 200 million properties in the EU should still be standing in 2050 if the EU wants to be climate-neutral. The European Commission therefore presented new targets for this at the end of 2021.

The Eu Parliament now wants to tighten this up: According to a compromise agreed by all pro-European factions, all residential buildings by 2033 should at least achieve energy efficiency class D. For public buildings and offices, this should apply three years earlier. The MEPs want to accept the compromise this Thursday in the Industry Committee.

Italy fights back

Parliament is thus heading for a conflict with the Council of Ministers. In the fall, he had only agreed on minimum targets for public and office buildings. They should also only achieve efficiency class E by 2034. There is no minimum target for residential buildings, which make up the majority of all buildings, but only that they reach class D on average by 2033.

Italy in particular had resisted more ambitious goals – to the displeasure of Germany and other countries. You should now be urging the Council of Ministers to approach Parliament in the forthcoming trilogue negotiations. Only when both sides have agreed on a line can the new rules come into force. The goal is to reach an agreement before the summer break.

For socially disadvantaged people?

In the EU Parliament, too, there was resistance to overly ambitious goals – above all on the part of the Christian Democrats. The compromise therefore contains a number of exceptions. Historical buildings are not affected, this also applies to buildings for which the monument protection process is running. This is an attempt to bring Italy on board with its high inventory of historic buildings. Religious buildings, holiday homes and “little houses” are also excluded. In addition, states can give homeowners more time to meet the minimum targets, for example when there is not enough labor for the renovation work or the work is extremely expensive.

However, these exceptions may not affect more than 22 percent of the portfolio and expire in 2037. The fact that the installation of gas boilers, which can also be operated with hydrogen, can be counted positively, has caused strong criticism from climate protectionists.

States can decide for themselves how to achieve the goals. Also, the efficiency targets are not European targets, but national ones. As a first step, the worst 15 percent of the buildings in the EU countries are to be classified in the highest efficiency class G. That alone gives the states flexibility, argues the responsible “rapporteur” in Parliament, Irish MEP Ciarán Cuffe.

Last but not least, the EU needs the strict requirements for building renovation to put pressure on landlords, said Cuffe. Otherwise they would have no incentive to reduce energy costs for their tenants – even though an increase in efficiency by two classes from G to E can be achieved with simple interventions such as replacing single-glazed windows or installing a new heating system.

In principle, socially disadvantaged people in particular would benefit from the EU law. They often lived in houses with a poor energy balance. Even before the energy crisis, 31 million Europeans could not afford to heat their homes adequately.

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