Contested EU green buildings law adopted  – Euractiv

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The EU’s buildings directive has been adopted by member states on Friday (12 April), paving the way for national renovation plans amid cheers from the wider energy efficiency industry.

In late 2021, the European Commission proposed an overhaul of the bloc’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) to boost flagging renovation rates and tackle a third of the EU’s CO2 emissions.

After drawn-out negotiations – and uncertainty about whether the law could be agreed upon – EU countries adopted the law on Friday (12 April) with a slim majority.

Italy and Hungary voted against it, while Croatia, Czechia Sweden, Slovenia, and Poland abstained.

“Finally! Sometimes I doubted if we would ever get here,” said Adrian Hiel of the urban lobby group Energy Cities.

An advisor to the Austrian energy minister said “Congratulations to everyone involved.”

The text, which now enters into EU law, aims to get Europe’s housing stock ready for net zero by 2050, by prescribing the renovation of badly performing public and private buildings.

EU countries will be asked to present their plans by 2026 to achieve a 20% to 22% reduction in residential buildings’ energy use by 2035, with 55% of gains coming from the bottom 43% of worst-performing buildings.

The rules for public buildings and offices are stricter. By 2030, the bottom 16% of worst-performing buildings must be renovated, and the bottom 26% by 2033.

From 2030, new buildings should be climate-friendly by design – both energy efficient and connected to a clean source of heat. 

These national plans can also include a pathway to phasing out fossil fuels in heating by 2040, and mandatory solar panels on rooftops, if economically feasible, from 2025.

Brussels civil society groups and business associations involved in the two-year negotiations are now switching attention to the 27 EU countries, where these plans must now be developed. 

A bittersweet conclusion for NGOs

Highlighting member states efforts to “erode” the new reform, Eva Brardinelli, who handles buildings policy for climate NGO CAN Europe said, “It is now in the hands of governments and national actors to exceed the low benchmark set within the legislation and work to build better lives.”

“Despite the fallback, the EPBD underscores the EU’s commitment to energy efficiency,” said the European Alliance to Save Energy. 

Industry is ready

For the building sector that will deliver the EPBD – from insulation producers to suppliers of smart temperature regulators – the law means a welcome boost in sales.

“The energy efficiency industry is ready to deliver and make efficient buildings Europe’s next industrial success story,” said Julie Kjestrup, president of industry association EuroACE.

Germany’s heavyweight industry association BDI, which engaged extensively in the law’s creation, said: “The EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) must provide important impetus for climate protection in Europe.” 

Deneff, another energy efficiency association, called the adoption an “urgently awaited step in the right direction, both for climate protection and for the refurbishment industry, which is under pressure.”

[Edited by Rajnish Singh/Donagh Cagney]

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Read More: Contested EU green buildings law adopted  – Euractiv

2024-04-14 15:00:47

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