Reports 2016

Energy Union and construction: could energy-efficient buildings be an untapped source of prosperity in Europe?

10 November 2016

The building sector is a good example of an area where energy efficiency measures could contribute to the achievement of the Energy Union objectives and bring multiple benefits. Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. It is estimated that by improving the energy efficiency of the European building stock, it will be possible to reduce total EU energy consumption by 5% to 6% and have lower CO2 emissions by about 5%. This would also enhance the EU’s energy security by reducing reliance on foreign suppliers, create local jobs and, arguably, even help to tackle energy poverty. However, this potential is far from being realised. Under the current Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the EU introduced in 2010 energy performance certificates and mandated the member states inter alia to establish inspection schemes and to set minimum energy performance requirements. Many claim that these mainly voluntary measures have exhausted their potential. Another challenge is energy prices, which are too low to really incentivise energy efficiency efforts.

At this Policy Dialogue, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, reflected on the Commission’s ongoing work for the finalisation of the Energy Union Winter Package. A panel debate then followed, looking at: the state of play on energy performance of Europe’s buildings; the potential of the sector to contribute to growth and jobs, energy security, decarbonisation and poverty alleviation in the EU; and how the EU could better use its instruments to realise these benefits.

Speakers included: Annika Hedberg, Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre, Oliver Rapf, Director, Building Performance Institute Europe, Sigrid Linher, Director Energy & Environment, Orgalime, Julien Dijol, Deputy Secretary General, Housing Europe, Fulvia Raffaelli, Head of Unit for Clean Technologies and Products, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission