We don’t have to deal with EPBD, we get to deal with EPBD

With negotiations on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) starting back after the summer break, we want to make sure our legislators understand why they should go all in with this legislation. Ahead of EU elections in 2024, a timely and ambitious deal on EPBD would show voters how EU policymakers can have a positive impact on their lives!

Decarbonising our building stock is no easy feat, we can agree on that. There are many issues to solve and it’s important that the burden on consumers is not disproportionate. But renovating our buildings to make them green and efficient will have to be done anyway, and the sooner the better. Buildings account for 40% of our energy use and for an enormous 36% share of Europe’s GHG emissions, meaning that decarbonising this sector is an essential step towards the achievement of our climate target.

While zeroing in on the regulatory approach to set this into motion can be seen as a bit of a political conundrum, it should be clear that the benefits of acting with ambition and immediacy are tremendous. Beyond our climate targets, buildings have a significant impact on European citizens and on our economy.

The Russian invasion and ensuing energy crisis have shown how dependent we are from energy imports and how exposed we are to the volatility of their price on international markets. Buildings can easily be powered with homegrown energy, even energy generated by or on buildings themselves. They can also support energy systems to make them more efficient. Every building that is renovated to become more energy efficient contributes to lowering that 40% share of energy use, and thus boosts our energy security and sovereignty. Our economy will in turn benefit from much lower energy imports, not to mention the tremendous potential for local job creation!

For citizens, reducing energy use mainly means lower energy bills, which again have come under the spotlight in 2022. Just think of how better off we would have been if the relief packages made available by Member States to mitigate the energy crisis’ impact on household (and sometimes industry) energy bills had been used earlier to renovate these same buildings!

But it’s also in buildings where we spend most of our time, whether it’s at our workplace or at home. Especially after the Covid pandemic, we all learned to value the quality of our indoor environment. This can mean healthier air quality, better ventilation, higher connectivity or less noise pollution. Not to forget that efficient buildings are as good for energy bills as for our comfort in cold winters or hot summers!

Finally, buildings are also key to address the energy used for transportation. With electric vehicles soon becoming the norm, consumers will want to charge their cars while parked as it will be more convenient and much cheaper.

And all of these benefits are really what the revised EPBD is about. This is why our policymakers working on this should not see this as a hassle, but, with elections coming up, policymakers should rather make sure they have a deal on this as soon as possible to show their constituents they have worked to bring them the most benefits they could find!