Will the Energy Efficiency Directive, as agreed by the Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the 13th June fly? It has elements in it that could, if properly and fully implemented at Member State level, see increased energy efficiency take-off, but its propositions on building renovations will not contribute as much as they could to the voluntary target of a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020!

For the existing EU building stock, the text is not as ambitious as it could have been as the Member States remain unconvinced about the huge social, environmental and economic benefits that building renovation programmes for each country can bring. The compromise reached on the renovation of public buildings (Article 4) limits required actions to central government buildings and thus to a tiny percentage of the overall building stock. In fact, the quantity of building included is so small that the market does not expect any stimulus effects to arise from this provision.

More promising is the inclusion (in a new Article 3a) of a requirement for each Member State to establish a long-term strategy for the renovation of the entire national building stock by April 2014. In this provision there is an opportunity for Member States to clear a path for a more prosperous, energy efficient and lowercarbon future as about 40% of all end-use energy is accounted for by buildings and about 32% of all carbon emission.

“To make the Directive fly and to ensure that it achieves the potential offered by the building stock of the EU, Member States will have to propose innovative, long-term, stable measures that take account of national conditions.” said Adrian Joyce, the Director of the Renovate Europe Campaign. “This can best be achieved by creating national building renovation roadmaps with a horizon of 2050 in which the goal is to reduce the energy demand of the EU building stock by 80% over current levels and the partners in the Renovate Europe Campaign are ready to assist in this endeavour.”

With a well-documented potential to create hundreds of thousands of long-term, stable, local jobs and with an average positive return on investment of over 12%, undertaking the extensive renovation of the EU building stock is a sure way to boost economic activity whilst also improving the built environment and hence the health of EU citizens.

Recognising the challenges ahead, Adrian Joyce adds: “Now that the text of the Directive is known, it’s time to roll up our sleeves, start work and get the buildings renovation sector off the ground!”