Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is not just a question of cutting bills for consumers and increasing the comfort of their homes. Buildings account for 40%1 of final energy consumption in the EU and contribute about 36% of EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These numbers appear to be broadly unchanged, despite the energy performance of buildings being on the EU agenda from at least 1984.
This issue is of crucial importance if the EU is to reach its energy and climate objectives of overall energy efficiency gains and GHG reduction, especially when it comes to attaining the 2050 goal of an 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels. Without cutting the energy consumption of buildings, this will be impossible.
Buildings could be the key to achieving other objectives of EU energy policy as well. More than 60% of all imported natural gas in the EU is used in buildings. Lower energy demand would help decrease dependence on energy imports. It could also contribute to solving the problem of peak loads and insufficient energy production in the EU, thus increasing the overall resilience of the EU’s energy system. Lower energy bills could especially benefit vulnerable customers and help fight against energy and fuel poverty. Renovating the EU’s existing energy-inefficient building stock would also help the economy in general, creating jobs in construction and related sectors.