How can the EU tap into the building sector’s potential for energy efficiency?

Press Club Brussels Europe (Brussels), October 11th 2016

The construction sector is crucial to EU climate and energy policy as buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 35% of CO2 emissions in the EU. Moreover, the EU’s construction sector, including its extended value chain, is the largest European economic activity (9% of GDP) and provides 18 million direct jobs.

Clearly, there is huge potential for reducing CO2 emissions by improving the energy efficiency of buildings, spurring the economy, creating new jobs, lowering the bill of consumers, and bolstering energy security. However, despite the huge benefits of renovating and renewing the EU’s building stock, current investments are five times lower than what is required to decarbonise the European economy by 2050. This can be explained, partly, by the fact that access to finance is complicated and that the sector is highly fragmented and sensitive to economic cycles.

In order to improve this situation, the Commission came up with the heating and cooling strategy earlier this year. In July, it proposed the effort-sharing proposal for the non-ETS sectors – including buildings – in view of the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. Finally, the Commission is expected to propose renewed Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance in Buildings Directives and will publish a communication on “Smart financing for smart buildings” at the beginning of October.

In this changing context, the Symposium aims to look into the on-going EU policy discussions among stakeholders on the recently published directives, while identifying the remaining bottleneck and thinking through new proposals for the building sector to deliver its full decarbonisation potential.

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