On 25 March 2015, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) published its report ‘Energy Renovation: The Trump Card for the New Start for Europe’ on the challenges and opportunities linked to building renovation in Europe. Taking into consideration the significance of the building sector for the European economy, the report reiterated the importance of building renovation in order to achieve Europe 2020 energy, jobs and growth goals. It also highlighted the necessity to integrate cost-effective technologies in the process.
Europe’s commitment to energy efficiency in buildings
Over the last decade, the European Union has been increasingly committed to improve energy efficiency, especially in buildings. In fact, Europe has set clear targets for tackling the energy consumption of European buildings: by 2020, all new EU buildings should be nearly zero-energy consumption buildings.
In addition to measures for future buildings, European authorities have also formulated actions to further ensure building renovation of inefficient buildings. In turn, besides the 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive that currently frame European regulation on energy renovation in buildings, other national schemes have been set under individual ‘National Energy Efficiency Action Plans’ and national initiatives. More recently, the ‘new’ Commissioners, including Maroš Šefčovič and Miguel Arias Cañete, who hold the Energy Union and Climate Action & Energy portfolios respectively, have also expressed their commitment to promoting energy efficiency – the so-called ‘first fuel’– in renovation in buildings in order to meet EU targets.
Renovating Europe to enhance citizens’ present and future
These European frameworks, combined with national regulations on building energy efficiency, highlight authorities’ awareness of the multiple opportunities linked to renovation. Firstly, it has a crucial impact on the preservation of the environment. For example, the use of sustainable technologies for renovation enables higher efficiency savings while preserving natural resources.
Beyond the environmental and economic aspect of energy efficiency, energy renovation is also key to energy security both for individual citizens and the European Union at large. As has been demonstrated, “buildings consume about 40 % of Europe’s energy and 61 % of all imported gas. Their total cost-effective savings potential until 2030 is estimated at about 60 %. The deep renovation of buildings could reduce the sector’s gas imports by 60 % by 2030 and 95 % by 2050. At the same time, up to 1.4 million additional jobs could be created” (source: Building Energy Efficiency – ISOPA).
Indeed, while the environmental benefits of energy renovation are widely acknowledged, its significant contributions to the job market and EU growth are often less known. With over 14 million workers and about 10% of the European Union’s GDP linked to building-related activities, the building sector is already a significant actor in the European economy (source: Renovate Europe ). Investing in building renovation could enable what President Jean-Claude Juncker committed to: more jobs for Europeans.
In addition, buildings’ actual ‘users’ could benefit from both in terms of comfort and costs. Renovated houses provide for a healthier environment. Innovative materials such as polyurethane increase building’s insulation and indoor quality thus significantly reducing energy bills while increasing the property’s value.
Polyurethane: The future of homes begins now
Polyurethane has increasingly showed its relevance and importance in the building sector at the local, national or European level, thanks to its versatility and sustainability. This is what ISOPA has notably illustrated thanks to its Polyurethanes Passive House featuring polyurethanes solutions in extremely efficient and optimal building envelope. Besides using up to 85% less energy than a conventional building, passive houses “only require[e] the capacity of an iron to maintain comfortable warmth throughout the winter” (Source: Introducing the Polyurethanes Passive House project – See below for further relevant blog posts).
Furthermore, as the technologies to produce polyurethanes keep improving, polyurethane solution especially designed for building renovation, where often insulation thickness is constrained, are increasingly brought into the market, both for professional users and DIY. Without forgetting the obvious environmental positive impact such evolution brings along!
All in all, renovation in buildings is critical to the achievement of EU’s environmental, political, social and economic objectives. And closer to home: a small investment in your house will take both Europe and your comfort a long way.
For more information on the ISOPA’s activities or any other questions on polyurethane’s contribution to energy efficient and sustainable buildings do not hesitate to engage with us on Twitter and read our blog posts!
Missed the Passive House construction? Have a look at our past blog posts to see how it went!