The Irish architect at the heart of the EU’s fight for greener buildings

(EurActiv, 17 Nov 2022) As Brussels pushes legislation to renovate the EU’s worst-performing buildings, member states are fighting back, leaving the European Parliament’s chief negotiator in a corner.

With the clock ticking on the EU’s 2050 deadline to reach net-zero emissions, the bloc’s 150 million buildings, of which 75% of floor space is residential housing, emerges as one of the biggest challenges. 

Air travel, cement or steelmaking are often portrayed as the most challenging sectors when it comes to decarbonisation. But with the EU’s building sector responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, it is a sleeping giant.

To reach net-zero, 75% of EU buildings may have to be renovated by 2050, according to EU estimates. However, only 1% of the housing stock each year currently undergoes so-called deep renovation, where buildings are comprehensively upgraded to become almost carbon neutral.

The European Commission has long sought to tackle the issue. In 2020, it launched a Renovation Wave, an initiative presented as one of the flagship measures of the European Green Deal.

Almost one year ago, the EU executive doubled down with a proposal to revise the bloc’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which was first introduced ten years ago and last revised in 2018.

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EurActiv, 17 Nov 2022: The Irish architect at the heart of the EU’s fight for greener buildings