Renovating Europe – how adapting buildings can make us more energy efficient and less dependant on foreign suppliers

Last week, I spoke at the RED Day 2015 event organised by Renovate Europe, you can watch a video of the campaign launch here.

The Renovate Europe campaign was initiated by EuroACE (The European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings); it calls for an ambitious roadmap to be drawn up on how to triple the annual renovation rate of the EU building stock from the current rate of 1% to 3% by 2020 and to ensure that the combined result of those renovations should lead to an 80% reduction of the energy demand of the building stock by 2050.

During my speech I spelt out my view of the need for ambitious action on building renovations and the recognition of energy efficiency as a first fuel.

When we talk about building renovations, we are not only talking about making physical changes to buildings but also talking about energy efficiency and how we can adapt buildings to become more energy efficient and how this can enable us to address energy security concerns, something of special importance given that the EU is highly dependent on foreign suppliers at a cost of €400 billion every year.

Energy efficiency is also the lowest-cost means of reducing our carbon emissions and has the potential to create local jobs, boost future markets in the field of technological innovation, contribute to the regeneration of cities and regions, improve the health of European citizens and of course reduce energy bills.

Energy efficiency needs to be both cross-border and cross-Parliamentary committees. This issue affects industrial policy, the development of products, transport policy and buildings.

While action needs to be taken across all of these sectors, building stock seems to be the lowest hanging fruit. can we ties these two para together, it won’t work on track changes? The building sector is the largest energy consumer in Europe: its share of total final consumption was 40% in 2012, making buildings responsible for 36% of the EU’s total C02 emissions. Energy renovation of buildings in the EU is a win-win for the EU economy as a whole and will help address the issue of energy poverty.

My objective is to get this message on Energy Efficiency across so that we can achieve change at local, national and European levels. In this context, the Parliament must be a particularly strong champion and advocate.

The European Parliament will address renovation in different ways. The revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive at the end of 2016 are essential opportunities to place energy efficiency and eradicating energy poverty centre stage and I look forward to working on these issues in the coming months.

I want to make sure that in each of this opportunities, the European Parliament is ambitious and enables action on the ground to renovate Europe. The European Parliament should be one of the main actors urging Member States to develop investment plans and identify capital finance targeting energy efficiency in buildings in both the public and private sectors.

Currently, the upcoming adoption of the Energy Union Communication is a great opportunity to frame adequately the next legislative debates.

My Group, the Socialists and Democrats, will fight to ensure that Energy Efficiency is properly addressed. In this regard, I believe that the debate on the governance of the Energy Union is crucial:

  • The governance framework of the Energy Union needs to be based on ambitious binding targets. The S&D group is pushing for a revision of the 2030 climate and energy package to increase the ambition of the Energy Efficiency target to 40% as opposed to the 27% indicative target (compared to the levels of 1990) and to make it binding.
  • The governance framework of the Energy Union also needs to be both bottom-up as well as top-down. The major challenge is therefore to link local and regulatory frameworks effectively. Energy transition will only happen if there is a change from the bottom. Cities, the new combined authorities and local government have to act as catalysts or conductors to accelerate this change. Both the challenges of and solutions to energy transition can be found at local level. I have called on the Commission to facilitate the exchange of good practice on achieving energy efficiency and combatting energy poverty at local and national levels.

Last week councillors Nigel Murphy and Kate Chappell from Manchester visited the European Parliament and they attended a meeting with EUFores on the issue of heating and cooling and they spoke about the need for action at local level.

Hearing them speak and working with them on the issue really brings home the importance of legislation like this – everything I do in the European Parliament ties back into what is being done at national level by MPs in Westminster and at local level by councillors up and down the country.

Together we can make a change.