Renovating Europe’s buildings: the secret weapon in creating up to 1.1 million direct jobs and saving up to 32% of EU energy consumption

Brussels, 11 October 2011 – Today’s Renovate Europe Day, organized by the Renovate Europe campaign, brings together non-governmental organizations, politicians, academics and industry representatives. The aim of the Renovate Europe campaign, initiated by EuroACE, is to promote the huge - but largely unknown - capacity of deep renovation of buildings as the most effective way to meet the economic and energy challenges that face the EU.

Newly appointed Renovate Europe Campaign Director Adrian Joyce said “This is a wake-up call to our politicians. The potential of Europe’s buildings has been neglected when it comes to economic growth. But all the evidence shows the huge impact deep renovation can have in Europe: up to 1.1 million direct new jobs , 32% of the total primary energy saved. The choice is clear: either continue to burn our Euros on fossil fuels from abroad or invest in deep renovation that creates European jobs today and saves us money tomorrow.”

If the EU wants to meet its energy savings targets, a commitment to deep renovation in the current discussions around the Energy Efficiency Directive is absolutely vital. Adrian Joyce added “The financing to deliver on deep renovation is available and industry is ready to make it happen. What we need is an ambitious Energy Efficiency Directive that creates the legal and policy framework to allow deep renovation to take place.” Renovate Europe is calling upon policymakers to stand by a proposal to renovate 3% of Europe’s public buildings per year and to put in place national roadmaps that will deliver an 80% reduction in energy demand of Europe’s buildings by 2050.

Event speaker Peter Sweatman, Founder and CEO of Climate Strategy & Partners, will illustrate examples of huge returns on investments in energy efficiency measures in buildings, such as a nine fold return on investment in Germany where promotional bank KfW stimulated a total investment of Euro 54 billion from 2006-2009 from a core public investment of Euro 6 billion. Mr. Sweatman will show that the amounts of investment flows required to meet Europe’s 2020 Energy Savings Target are in the order of 0.5-0.8 % of GDP; a level of investment already being surpassed by the KfW scheme in Germany.

New research quantifying Europe’s building stock will be revealed at the event. Produced by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), an independent not-for-profit organization, the research shows that Europe’s existing building stock is about the size of Belgium, 75% of Europe’s buildings are residential and that buildings have the potential to create up to 1.1 million direct new jobs in the construction sector. Providing a vital picture of Europe’s building stock, the BPIE research is a solid basis for policy debate both at the EU and Member State level. “We are convinced that effective policymaking starts with an accurate picture of the challenge and our report is a first attempt at a comprehensive answer to this question” says Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of BPIE. “To improve the energy performance of European buildings in the future we need a good understanding of the present. An efficient monitoring system for policy effectiveness as well as data availability and quality is a prerequisite for successful and ambitious policy making” he added.

Europe's Buildings Under the Microscope

by BPIE ,  was launched on Renovate Europe Day 2011. It provides the following research and analysis:

  • Provide a clear overview of EU building stock (energy use, typology, regulations, etc.)
  • Quantify the potential financial and energy savings benefits of increased retrofits
  • Identify and propose solutions to gaps and barriers to delivery mechanisms

Executive Summary


Feckless Commission fails to deliver on energy efficiency

Industry leaders of some of Europe's most important companies and organisations today slammed the European Commission's absence of courage on buildings efficiency and other energy efficiency improvements on the energy end-use side.  The criticism comes as the European Commission releases its proposal for a framework Directive on Energy Efficiency.

The proposal adopted today by the European Commission clearly falls short of addressing Europe’s daunting climate and energy challenges. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 2010 was the worst year in history in terms of CO2 emissions, moving the world closer to the point of no return on global warming.

Speaking last week at a UN High-Level Global Sustainability Panel in Helsinki, Climate Commissioner Hedegaard said "by 2016 we'll have 600bn in fossil fuel subsidies. Think what we could do if we invested this in renewables & efficiency". Strong though they are, the Commissioner’s words were not turned into meaningful actions by the rest of the European Commission. As Europe goes through hard economic times, it is justifiable to question the EU’s obsession with subsidizing the use of foreign fossil fuels and prioritizing the building out of energy supply and transmission when investing in the deep renovation of Europe’s building stock could create 2 million local jobs and increase Europe’s energy security.

“We were shocked by the lack of ambition in the Commission’s proposal” says Rick Wilberforce, President of EuroACE. “Europe is already walking on thin, melting ice, yet the European Commission proposes a Directive that experts already consider as a failure. Even the 3% binding renovation target for public buildings was watered-down, the Commission only opting to renovate buildings to minimum standards instead of deep renovation will lead to a significant untapped savings potential whilst at the same time lead to higher costs for public authorities in the future” he added.

Buildings account for 40% of EU energy demand, and applying existing technologies would already allow saving 83% of total energy demand in buildings. It is already estimated that by 2050, a 3% yearly deep renovation rate of Europe’s building stock, would save 32% of the total primary energy used in Europe. These measures are necessary if the EU is going to have a chance of meeting its 2050 CO2 emissions reduction target.

The Energy Efficiency Directive brought hopes for groundbreaking energy efficiency policy in Europe; however the Commission managed to disappoint the expectations of people and stakeholders, only to satisfy reluctant Member States who although talk up their green credentials lack the ambition to set a clear vision of how our societies will deal with tomorrow’s energy and climate challenge.

Open letter to the EU Commissioner for Energy and the Energy Ministers of the European

Dear Commissioner Oettinger, Dear Ministers,

Recent environmental disasters as well as turmoil in the energy market have underlined the energy challenges that we face. We need affordable, secure and safe energy for our economies to grow and for our citizens to prosper.

You have the opportunity to help address this once in a generation challenge. You can continue the policies of the past or pursue a better, brighter energy future by making Europe’s buildings more energy efficient.

A deep renovation of Europe’s existing buildings will save 32% of the total primary energy used in Europe. This saving is equivalent to the combined total energy production of the European coal and nuclear energy sectors or a saving of 4 billion barrels of foreign oil per year.1

Our companies and trade associations stand ready and willing to help you Renovate Europe. Working together we can create local jobs, reduce Europe’s CO2 footprint and ensure that we are less likely to suffer from foreign energy shocks.

We urge you to ensure that energy saving is made a national and European priority. You can make a start by ensuring that energy saving is given equal weight to energy production in Europe’s 2050 Energy Road Map.

Yours faithfully,


Marc Jardinier, CEO, Aereco • Jean-François Heris, CEO, AGC Glass Europe • Bruno Lacroix, Chairman & CEO, ALDES • Philippe Delpech, President, Carrier EMEA • Richard Pemberton, Chief Executive Officer, Celotex Ltd • Niels B. Christiansen, CEO, Danfoss A/S • Nils Borg, Executive Director, ECEEE • Steve Winslet, Managing Director, EcoTherm Insulation (UK) Ltd • Jan te Bos, Director General, Eurima • Rick Wilberforce, President, EuroACE Monica Frassoni, President, European Alliance to Save Energy • Jan Denneman, President, European Lamp Companies’ Federation • Bertrand Cazes, Secretary General, Glass for Europe • Luc Theis, Group Vice President, Guardian Industries Corp. • Edwin Pittomvils, Vice President and General Manager Europe & North Africa, Honeywell Building Solutions • Nick Webster, Vice President, Huntsman Polyurethanes Europe • Agostino Renna, Vice President and General Manager EMEA, Energy Solutions, Johnson Controls • Gene Murtagh, CEO, Kingspan Group • Tony Robson, Group CEO, Knauf Insulation Philip M. Ramsey, VP Technology – Building Products R&D, NSG Group • Väinö Tuomisalo, CEO, Paroc Group • Garrett Forde, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Lighting Solutions, EMEA • Oliver Loebel, Secretary General, PU Europe • Olivier Chapelle, CEO, Recticel nv/sa • Jakob Sørensen, Senior Vice President, Group Corporate Affairs, Rockwool International A/S • Jean-Pierre Floris, CEO, Saint-Gobain Glass • Benoît Carpentier, CEO, Saint-Gobain Insulation • D. Michael Donnelly, President & General Manager - Performance Films, Solutia Inc. • Jørgen Tang-Jensen, CEO, VELUX Group • Leif Frilund, President and CEO, Walki Group



Some targets are more equal than others

The European Union has binding targets for carbon dioxide reductions and renewable energy. Why does energy efficiency not have the same status?

The European Union has three energy-related targets for 2020. Each is based upon an emblematic 20 per cent. According to Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, these are: to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent; to boost the proportion of renewable energy to 20 per cent; and to improve energy efficiency by 20 per cent.


CEOs Slam Lack of Political Will on Energy Efficiency as Part of New ‘Renovate Europe’ Campaign

Industry leaders of some of Europe’s leading companies and organisations published last week an open letter to EU Member State energy ministers urging them to refocus Europe’s energy policy on promoting the energy efficiency of buildings.

Europe’s energy ministers meet today in Budapest, Hungary, to discuss Europe’s energy strategy to 2050. The letter, which is being published in Le Monde (FR), Financial Times (UK), Berlinske (DK), Handelsblatt (DE), and the European Voice (EU) warns that any effective European energy policy should give reducing energy demand as much political weight as ensuring energy supply.

Despite environmental disasters as well as turmoil in the energy market, recent weeks have seen European governments seek to water down attempts to propose ambitious Europe wide measures that promote the energy efficiency of buildings. For example, European governments have sought to push back on a suggested requirement on governments to renovate 3% of public buildings each year. Governments across Europe are already expected to fail to meet previously agreed targets for achieving energy efficiency improvements by 2020.

“Energy efficiency is the silver bullet to our energy challenges that governments seem unwilling to fire.” said Tony Robson, CEO of Knauf Insulation and one of the signatories of the letter. “The deep renovation of our buildings will reduce our exposure to foreign energy shocks, combat climate change and create 2 million new jobs. It is a political no-brainer but so far there has been very little action. This is why we have joined the Renovate Europe Campaign.”

Europe’s buildings consume around a third of its energy, around the same amount of energy produced by the nuclear and coal sectors together. The European Commission estimates that up to 2 million new jobs would be created through the deep renovation of Europe’s existing buildings.

“Energy ministers have a once in a generation opportunity to shape Europe’s future. We can continue to build increasing numbers of power stations and increase our energy imports or we can start to take real action to reduce demand. The costs of inaction are clear to all.” said Jakob Sørensen, Senior Vice President at Rockwool International, a member of Renovate Europe.