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EU bets on energy savings, greener buildings to meet climate target -draft

by Reuters
Tuesday, 6 July 2021 12:58 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Air conditioners are seen on a vine-covered walls of a building in central Kiev, Ukraine, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

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A draft document seen by Reuters shows that the EU will require countries to renovate buildings faster to meet its climate targets

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS, July 6 (Reuters) - The European Union will require countries to renovate energy-guzzling buildings faster and meet tougher targets to save energy as part of its drive to meet climate change goals, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

Buildings produce more than a third of EU CO2 emissions and account for 40% of the bloc's energy consumption, making the sector a key threat to Europe's plan to reduce planet-warming emissions.

A draft European Commission proposal, seen by Reuters, would require countries to put in place measures to cut their final energy consumption by 1.5% each year from 2024 to 2030, nearly doubling a current requirement of 0.8%.

That could be done by insulating buildings or installing more energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

Europe currently renovates just 1% of buildings to save energy each year. Brussels hopes countries will use the EU's 800 billion euro COVID-19 economic recovery fund to launch a wave of green renovations, boosting construction sector jobs.

The draft proposal would require countries to renovate 3% of buildings owned and occupied by public bodies each year to transform them into "nearly zero-energy buildings".

That would include hospitals, government buildings, schools and social housing, and amount to more than 700,000 buildings being renovated per year, based on industry estimates.

Currently, countries are required to renovate 3% of central government buildings to weaker standards. Central government buildings make up less than 1% of the roughly 260 million buildings in the EU, while public buildings make up roughly 10%.

The proposal could change before it is due to be published on July 14, part of a bumper package of EU policies to cut emissions faster.

That package will also include a new CO2 pricing system for transport and heating buildings, plus a social fund to help vulnerable households shoulder the cost.

Brussels will propose minimum energy performance standards for buildings later this year that could oblige building owners to upgrade properties before putting them up for rent, and offer financial support to help them do so.

The new policies must be negotiated by EU countries and European Parliament, a process that can take roughly two years. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Catherine Evans)