EU to propose requirements that countries renovate energy-guzzling buildings

by Reuters
Wednesday, 8 December 2021 14:35 GMT

FILE PHOTO: EU flags flutter in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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Buildings produce more than a third of EU CO2 emissions and account for 40% of the bloc's energy consumption

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The European Union is poised to propose requirements for member countries to renovate their worst-performing buildings by the end of the decade to cut emissions and make them more energy efficient, according to sources familiar with the proposals.

Buildings produce more than a third of EU CO2 emissions and account for 40% of the bloc's energy consumption. Both issues will need tackling for the EU to meet its target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The European Commission is due to propose legislation next week to curb the sector's climate impact.

The proposal would require that all buildings in full-time use that have the lowest energy rating - a "G" energy performance certificate - are renovated to a higher grade by 2030, according to two people familiar with the plans.

That would effectively establish a minimum energy performance standard for buildings across the EU, requiring countries to renovate millions of homes, offices and commercial buildings. A building's energy performance may be improved in several ways including insulation or replacing fossil fuel boilers with more efficient low-carbon heating systems.

The number of buildings affected would vary between countries. In Italy, roughly a third of residential buildings have the lowest G grade, versus just 4% of homes in the Netherlands, according to national statistics.

Soaring gas and electricity prices in recent months have left European governments scrambling to shield households from higher costs, and put the spotlight on renovations as a way to keep bills in check.

The price spike has also brought resistance from some governments to a separate EU plan to impose CO2 costs on heating fuels, which some countries fear could add to citizens' bills. That policy would be accompanied by a multi-billion-euro EU fund which could be used to help poorer households invest in renovations.

Fossil fuels provide roughly three quarters of heating in EU households. An early draft of the Commission's buildings proposal, seen by Reuters, had said: "Member States shall not provide any financial incentives for the installation of fossil fuel boilers".

The proposal is still under discussion and could change before it is published next week. It would need approval from EU countries and the European Parliament, in order to take effect.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Marine Strauss and Bernadette Baum)