New study shows importance of Minimum Energy Performance Standards to spur Europe's Renovation Wave

(13 Jul 2020) A new report, 'Filling the policy gap: Minimum Energy Performance Standards for European buildings' by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) shows how buildings standards are key to making the EU Renovation Wave a success.

The Renovation Wave is a topic of major discussion in EU energy and climate policy circles. It is generally seen as central to the European Green Deal and the EU's Recovery Plan. 

The building sector is at the center of the transition to climate neutrality and Europe's green recovery. No other sector in the EU offers such a huge potential to reduce energy and carbon dioxide, as buildings are Europe's largest energy consumer and carbon emitter. And no other sector offers such an opportunity to create new jobs and deliver a better quality of life. The International Energy Agency has found that retrofitting buildings would create the largest amount of new jobs to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) linked to the renovation of buildings can support a massive increase in the building renovation rate, which is essential for the EU to meet its climate targets and recover from the crisis, the RAP report claims. Minimum Energy Performance Standards are regulations that require buildings to meet a minimum performance standard, set for example in terms of an energy rating, by a specified compliance deadline or at a certain moment in the natural life of the building (such as sale or change in tenure). MEPS can ensure that the worst buildings are upgraded and that the EU's building stock reaches climate-neutrality by 2050 at the latest.

MEPS are already in use worldwide, as illustrated by the new report. If introduced as part of a comprehensive renovation policy framework, they can help overcome the significant barriers that have hindered renovation to date. Minimum Performance Standards should hence be a flagship of the EU's upcoming Renovation Wave initiative, the report argues.

The report argues that Minimum Energy Performance Standards signal the transition and destination for the entire building stock and individual buildings, which helps align the demand and supply chains, providing impetus for business and social innovation. They can also drive take-up of funding, finance and incentives, improving the effectiveness and dispersion of existing and new programmes. Minimum Energy Performance Standards can be introduced at the EU-level in several forms, and the new study describes several options for the EU to propose these standards as part of the review of climate and energy legislation expected in 2021.

This report was commissioned by Eurima - the European Insulation Manufacturers Association.

Eurima's position paper on a renovation wave in Europe.