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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy
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17 April 2018 – There are enormous opportunities to make Europe’s buildings more energy efficient, create jobs and reduce carbon emissions in line with international commitments, but current policy is not ambitious enough, according to a new report from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group. Leading businesses interviewed for the report say member states must legislate to ensure renovation happens.

The report, Renovation Roadmap, is published on the day that the European Parliament is expected to approve an updated version of the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

“There is a huge opportunity here but governments are failing to take it. The EU guidelines provide a framework, but for Europe to realise the significant benefits of increased energy efficiency, including job creation, lower energy bills, and reduced emissions, member states must step up their action. Voluntary measures are not working and we won’t get the benefits on the scale needed unless governments make more energy efficiency measures compulsory,“ said Eliot Whittington, Acting Director of the Corporate Leaders Group

Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of energy consumption and 36 per cent of CO2 emissions in the EU. Roughly 97 per cent of the EU’s building stock – over 30 billion m2 – is not currently energy efficient and at least three-quarters of it will still be in use in 2050. Homes are the main type of building in all member states and this is where much more needs to be done.

In order to reduce overall EU energy demand and imports and meet the objectives of the UN’s Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 2°C, an estimated 250 million homes across the EU will need energy renovation. That’s almost 23,000 homes a day to 2050 – more than double the current European average.

“The opportunities are clear – not just to reduce energy consumption but to create jobs, enhance skills, make the most of new technologies, and improve citizen wellbeing. A more ambitious approach by national governments could remove the barriers to increasing energy efficiency and lowering emissions, and allow Europe to reap significant benefits,” said Chantal Degand, Deputy Head of Department, Supply Division at EDF.

According to the International Energy Agency, Europe’s buildings sector offers by far the highest untapped low cost energy efficiency potential. However, unless there is significant policy change, up to two-thirds of that potential will not be realised.

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting said: “We would like to see governments legislating for the renovation of buildings at key trigger points, and to a minimum performance standard. This should be in the context of robust, long-term national renovation strategies, which provide certainty for investment by business and homeowners.”

The report says member state governments should also provide guarantee funds to bring down the cost of green finance for energy renovations. Energy renovations need skilled, accredited tradespeople who can co-ordinate complex projects and meet high quality standards. And property owners need independent advice and support.