Buildings can balance the grid through proactive energy demand management and can play a leading role in transforming the EU energy market, shifting from centralised, fossil-fuel-based systems towards a decentralised, renewable, interconnected and variable system. Many actors agree that buildings have a role in shaping the Energy Market Design Initiative.
This paper on the zero carbon and circular challenge in the built environment puts forward several policy recommendations. In order to achieve the net-zero carbon goal by 2050, adapting the built environment is paramount: the EU estimates that the climate change-related damage to infrastructure could grow tenfold under a business-as-usual scenario. The paper advocates the need to come up with a comprehensive strategy for the building and construction sector which should build on the principles of sustainability and circularity.
In 2016, most EU legislation on buildings, including the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the Renewable Energy Sources Directive (RED), are undergoing a review process. With this in mind, the European Commission decided to establish the European Union (EU) Building Stock Observatory to monitor buildings’ energy performance improvement and its impact on the actual energy consumption of the sector in the EU Member States.
The European Union is facing a double challenge: increasing building renovation rates while aiming at achieving “deep renovations”. Increasing the current EU renovation rate from 1.2% per annum to 2-3% is essential to meet both the EU 2020 targets and the commitment undertaken in Paris in December 2015. About 75% of the EU's 210 million buildings are not energy efficient, and 75% to 85% of them will still be in use in 2050. Ensuring a highly-efficient and fully decarbonised building stock by 2050 is a major challenge.