renovate buildings rewards economy

In this interview, Adrian Joyce, director of the Renovate Europe Campaign discusses targets, strategies and how energy efficient renovation can renew lagging economies.

What is the Renovate Europe Campaign?

Renovate Europe Campaign was initiated by EuroACE in 2011. The trigger for the campaign was the low ambition for renovation of existing building stock set out in the Recast EPBD. The campaign aims to reduce energy use in existing building stock by 80 % by 2050 compared to 2005 consumption levels. To achieve this, the renovation rate across Europe must increase from 1.2 % up to 3 % per year by 2020.

The 23 campaign partner companies and associations – that manufacture, distribute and install energy saving goods and services – play an important role by funding the campaign, assisting with campaign communications, disseminating key messages and raising awareness about the importance of renovation. Some partners are campaign multipliers, for example Energy Cities disseminates messages through the Covenant of Mayors network of 5 000 - 6 000 signatory cities.

Why does energy efficient renovation suffer from underinvestment when studies like the Copenhagen Economics report present such a strong economic argument in favour of renovation?

There are many reasons for this under appreciation, not least the competition for finance from other sectors. Returns on investment in energy efficiency rarely capture all the benefits - increased comfort, reduced health issues, reduced cost on national health services and reduced spend on fuel bills and imported energy.

Moreover, the structure of the construction sector can be difficult for policy makers to comprehend and tackle effectively - it’s highly fragmented consisting of not only small and medium size enterprises but also millions of micro enterprises. Affecting change on this workforce is highly challenging, as it demands addressing millions of actors. Pockets of skilled workforce exist throughout Europe but a major ramp up of low energy design and construction skills is required – for architects, engineers, planning authorities, planners and construction workers.

The upcoming structural funds present a huge opportunity for renovation across member states, how can they be used to stimulate the market?

The next funding period introduces real innovation for sustainability and energy efficiency. Member states are constrained to spend a minimum amount on energy efficiency - putting a base limit on investing in sustainable energy whereas previous funding periods had a ceiling limit. The budget for the next 7-year funding period is €23 billion and investment priorities have been aligned with Europe’s 2020 Growth Agenda. Both public and private stock is eligible, presenting a massive opportunity to design large scale integrated renovation programmes addressing poorly performing stock. The responsibility lies with Managing Authorities to design Operational Programmes focused on building renovation that unlock the huge economic opportunities for public and private finances.

From targets to implementation, is there a role for a retrofit expert to coordinate renovation for building owners or design staged renovation plans for buildings?

Although the campaign calls for deep renovation of existing building stock at building level, there is scope for single stage or multiple stage renovations that achieve significant cost effective reductions in energy use.

There is huge scope for one-stop shops providing comprehensive, independent, reliable advice to building owners and occupiers as a first step towards renovation - removing the hassle factor by managing a renovation project, once a customer decides to carry out work. In full concept these one-stop shops would be able to broker finance and have all the skills and expertise necessary for low energy renovation, with certified and accredited staff . This presents an opportunity for a new profession that can comprehensively advise building owners and manage, negotiate and coordinate renovation works.

What about the fast approaching renovation strategies deadline?

Unfortunately many member states will realise the potential too late, and rush their renovation strategies missing a lot of good opportunities . To draft and implement an effective plan for improving energy efficiency requires detailed granular knowledge of building stock, which does not exist across all member states. The Energy Efficiency Directive obliges member states to produce renovation strategies. The deadline for these strategies is 30 April 2014 – less than five months away! Member states should assess their building stockby typology, age, current energy performance and energy saving potential to facilitate improved targeting of stock. It’s not too late to start now!

Photo Credit: Renovation Rewards/shutterstock