The case for green buildings in the COVID-19 recovery

(EurActiv, 26 May 2020) By supporting green buildings, the European Commission can simultaneously cut down energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions while improving comfort and health, and supporting Europe’s 18 million construction workers, writes Peter Sweatman.

Europe’s buildings are mostly old and inefficient, and the way we use them is changing as our economies and lifestyles shift in a world recovering from COVID-19.

They are also a huge store of wealth: our homes are worth an estimated €17 trillion – more than the EU’s GDP. It’s time to translate some of these savings into investments and modernise where we live and work.

We can cut down energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions, improve comfort and health, and support Europe’s 18 million construction workers by building a green recovery.

This isn’t a new idea. In fact it has been tried by many Governments with mixed successes and some quiet failures. Europe already renovates about 1% of its buildings a year, yet just 0.2% come close to delivering the most energy efficient outcomes. So what’s wrong?