Webinar: Why and How is Technical Assistance the Wealth-enabler for buildings?

Renovate Europe is delighted to announce the webinar “Why and How is Technical Assistance the Wealth-enabler for buildings?”, which is taking place on Tuesday 28 September 2021 (10:30-11:50 CET) via GoToWebinar.

Historic amounts of funding will be made available through the EU budget (RRF and MFF), and the main buildings-related legislation (EED and EPBD) will be strengthened to deliver on the Renovation Wave goals. Unfortunately, the crucial role of Technical Assistance in delivering renovation schemes is still vastly underestimated.

Technical assistance or capacity building will be crucial in transforming EU objectives into tangible renovation schemes on the ground, and could significantly improve the absorption rates of EU funding across the Member States. It will also be essential in ensuring that renovations schemes are made accessible for the vulnerable.

This webinar, co-organised by Renovate Europe, FEDARENE and Energy Cities will be the opportunity to better understand the importance of technical assistance, through learnings from ongoing programmes but also through examples of funding opportunities, so renovation schemes can deliver better results for citizens, businesses, and the environment.

Draft Agenda

10:30 | Opening remarks: Why technical support is key in driving energy renovations
Brook Riley, Vice-Chair Renovate Europe (moderator)

10:35 | Learnings from the MFF: How and why to prioritise Technical Assistance in rolling out renovation schemes:
Mathieu Fichter, DG REGIO

10:45 | Applying for EU Technical Support to implement the Renovation Wave
– Technical Support from DG REFORM: Kaspar Richter, DG REFORM
– European City Facility: Stimulating local investments in the energy transition: Mariangela Luceri, FEDARENE

11:05 | Q&A session

11:15 | Making Technical Assistance available at National, Regional and Local level
– The contribution of the French Caisse des Dépôts Climate Plan for a Green Recovery and the importance of local technical assistance for building renovation: Caroline François-Marsal, Caisse des Dépôts Group
– The key role of Technical Assistance in the context of the EPBD revision: Jessica Glicker, BPIE

11:35 | Q&A session

11:45 | Wrap-up by Moderator

* Short videos showcasing best practices will be shown throughout the webinar.

Guide: Applying for Technical Support to Implement the Renovation Wave

What is DG REFORM’s Structural Reform Support?

The Directorate-General for Structural Reform and Support (REFORM) is a new DG within the European Commission with the objective of helping EU countries to design and carry out structural reforms, e.g. when designing and implementing the National Recovery and Resilience Plans. The 2021-2027 long-term EU budget allocated nearly €1 billion to provide this type of tailor-made support, which could also significantly improve the absorption rates of EU funding across the Member States.

How does DG REFORM’s support differ from other available support from the EU?

DG REFORM’s support requires no co-financing from Member States. The support is not designed at the level of individual renovation projects but rather covers wider reforms along the entire process, from preparation and design to implementation.

How does DG REFORM’s support relate to buildings’ renovation?

Under the current call, DG REFORM provides flagship technical support for building renovation targeting EU countries wishing to design reforms implementing the EU Renovation Wave and long-term renovation strategies as well as reforms supporting the deployment of cohesion policy funding (see here).

More generally, DG REFORM offers technical support across a broad range of policy areas, including “sustainable growth and business environment” which handles climate and energy. For example, EU countries could request support for implementing national recovery plans, raising awareness, using innovative finance and digital instruments, and upskilling workers. Find more details on the policy areas concerned here.

Which applications for support have been chosen so far on buildings renovation?

  • Public building energy efficiency plans and energy registry in Greece
  • Energy efficiency awareness raising strategy in the Czech Republic
  • Support on heating and cooling strategy in Slovenia
  • Roadmap for scaling up energy efficiency investments in Hungary
  • Establishing an energy efficiency expert platform in Poland

Find more examples of projects here.

How can I access DG REFORM’s Technical Support Instrument for my country?

  1. National Coordinating Authorities (specific Ministries and National Agencies) of Member States must submit a request to access the TSI by 31 October each year. DG REFORM can assist with the preparatory work before the final request has been lodged.
  2. DG REFORM selects the requests based on pre-defined criteria, and taking into account the expected reform impact and link to EU priorities.
  3. After successful selection, DG REFORM enters into dialogue with the national authorities to start the design and implementation of the projects.

Regional and local authorities are also eligible for technical support from the Commission. They submit their technical support request through their national coordinating authority.

Main contact point for applying for the Technical Support Instrument:
E-mail: REFORM-TSI@ec.europa.eu
Twitter: @EU_reforms

Public Buildings in the EED: the first cog to set in motion the Renovation Wave

Updating the EU’s energy efficiency directive (EED) gives us the chance to patch a serious shortcoming in the rules concerning public building renovations.

Op-ed by Adrian JOYCE, Renovate Europe Campaign Director


Meeting the EU’s essential climate goals means upgrading all our buildings and making sure they use far less energy than they do now. There is no Green Deal without substantial progress in cleaning up our buildings: Europe’s buildings emit more than a third of emissions and soak up 40% of primary energy.

The review of the EED is an essential cog as the EU gears itself up to at least double the overall renovation rate from its paltry ~1% by the end of the decade, as part of the ‘Renovation Wave Strategy’. Ensuring public buildings are front and centre in our renovation efforts is an indispensable step.

Current failings

The current EED text obligates central governments to upgrade 3% of the buildings they own and occupy every year. But this scope is insufficient when you realise that figure represents just 0.2% of public buildings. Public buildings themselves are 10% of the total building stock, so the current Article 5 is a tiny drop in the ocean.

As the Commission prepares to publish its proposal for the revision of the EED on 14th July, now is the time to patch up this shortcoming. Article 5 should be extended to cover regional and local government buildings, as well as any edifices that serve some sort of public interest. That brings hospitals, schools, museums, retirement homes and social housing into play. Not only is that a huge chunk of buildings that need to be upgraded, but it also offers an amazing opportunity to improve living conditions for those more vulnerable parts of society.

Opportunity of the EED

Bringing public buildings to the fore of that effort, scrapping the alternative measures that member states can currently deploy to avoid actual renovations and linking the renovations to high-quality minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) is the way forward.

But with the EED, the EU must also lend a helping hand in the shape of financial resources and expertise. Both are available, in the form of the €800 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility and technical assistance provided by one-stop shops and the European Investment Bank. An upgraded EED which can plug into all these instruments will set the needed framework for Europe’s public buildings to lead by example, ahead of the upcoming proposal for a revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) later this year.

The Commission’s proposal on 14th July is only a first step of course. MEP’s and the Member States themselves will have their say too, so it is important that they also understand the fantastic opportunity the EU has ahead of it. This is a chance to strike a massive blow for climate action, benefitting millions of people in the process.

Together, and only if they are meshed together with sufficiently high ambition, the EED and the EPBD can be the essential cogs that set in motion the Renovation Wave to make a real difference for Europe’s buildings, Europe’s Green Deal, and Europe’s citizens.


EPBD revision: How to boost renovation rates and depth in the EU

The revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a necessary pre-condition to meet the Renovation Wave objectives and to achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050.  The stubbornly low renovation rates and depth across the EU to date calls for the need to strengthen the European regulatory and non-regulatory measures for energy renovations in the EPBD.

Renovate Europe Calls for MEPS in its EPBD Roadmap Response

Renovate Europe suggests that both the regulatory measures proposed in Option 3 and the non-regulatory measures proposed in Option 2 must be synchronised in the most effective way in the context of the upcoming revision of the EPBD to boost the rate and depth of renovation across the EU.

“Don’t let our most valuable assets crumble away”

Our buildings are worth trillions of euros, yet fears about how to fund renovations are stalling the sector’s green progress. There is plenty of cash out there looking for a home, you just need to know where to look, writes Adrian JOYCE.

It is human nature to look after things we find valuable, be it a nice watch, a car or a home. But, whereas motorists are prepared to shell out cash to keep their vehicles roadworthy, building owners hesitate when it comes to maintaining their abodes and offices.

That is despite buildings being by far the globe’s most valuable asset class, worth some €150 trillion. The vast majority of them will still be standing in 2050 but to make it that far and to ensure our climate targets can be met, those buildings will need serious work.

The European Commission has set a target of 35 million buildings renovated by 2030 but an annual green investment gap of up to €275 billion has left many – including the Commission itself – to wonder where exactly all that cash is going to come from.

Those figures may seem daunting but there is ample money available to revamp those buildings, reduce their carbon footprint and improve human health. Two factors that, now more than ever, are absolutely essential to modern life.

But channelling that available money into building renovation is another story – building renovation may tick all the right boxes, but unfortunately it won’t flow there naturally without a few nudges along the way.

So where to start looking for the cash?

The first port-of-call is the loans and grants offered by the European Commission under its Next Generation EU programme, which has been designed to help governments drag their economies out of the pandemic-induced doldrums.

Funds will only be dispersed if governments intend to spend the cash on long-term, sustainable projects. The Renovation Wave is a poster child in that regard, with 30% of the overall budget earmarked for climate goals and ‘Renovation’ recommended specifically as a flagship priority.

Once the cash starts flowing from Brussels later this year, it should create a chain reaction. Next-Gen EU funds will not be enough to get the job done alone, so anyone that gets a taste for renovation will have to turn to lenders like the European Investment Bank.

The EIB is also on an environmental kick and is in the middle of aligning its loan books with the Paris Agreement. While the cash on offer is lower, its loans can come hand-in-hand with perks like technical assistance.

This is where the renovation battle can be won or lost. It is of course important to make enough money available but if the beneficiaries do not know how to spend it, then the effort is pointless.

The European Central Bank is poised to play perhaps the most important, yet underreported, role in this green push, as the Frankfurt-based lender looks to chart a more environmental course under its new president, Christine Lagarde.

Nearly €1.8 trillion – about the same as the entire EU budget for the next seven years – is available under its Targeting Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs), which consist of negative-interest loans.

As part of its ongoing review, the ECB will look at deploying a green TLTRO. It is of paramount importance that the Bank sees the merit in such an initiative and helps unlock hundreds of billions of euros for renovations. The potential is massive.

Regular banks can also get in on the act. Eurozone residential loans amount to some €4.8 trillion, so lenders could start offering bigger or more attractive mortgages if home owners commit to renovations. This option is particularly good because it would rely on greening existing funds, rather than developing new cash streams.

There is also a source of funding closer to home: personal savings.

The ECB, the Bank of England and other institutions have pointed to the “unprecedented” level of savings that households have achieved over the last 12 months due to the cooling economic effect of the pandemic.

Coronavirus should have taught us by now that long-term thinking and sustainable lifestyles are the smart bet, so anyone fortunate enough to have tucked away a little something extra should seriously consider giving their homes or places of business a little TLC.

Please do not misinterpret all of this advice: the task ahead – fuelling cash into renovation projects – is nothing short of Herculean. The buildings sector is a behemoth and the number of moving parts in the financing machine makes the job more complex still.

The bottom line is that it has to happen given the enormous asset value of buildings. Thankfully, we have the tools to get it done but we need to find ways of using these existing funds better.

Legislation like the buildings and energy efficiency directives which will be strengthened once again later this year can also help.

The investment is, quite simply, worth making.