The European Commission released a new proposal to boost renovation and decarbonisation of residential, non-residential, and public buildings.
Ahead of the publication, EAPN together with 44 organisations urged the EU to deliver on its commitments to tackle energy poverty in the Renovation Wave strategy. Amongst our joint calls to action, we highlighted the need for stronger social safeguards for tenants to ensure affordable housing as well as the introduction of mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) across the residential sector.
The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) introduces MEPS in the residential sector. Whilst this represents a step forward towards renovating Europe’s leakiest and less adequate housing, it will not address the energy crisis and eradicate energy poverty. Only the 15% worst-performing of national building stock will be upgraded from grade G to at least grade F by 2030, and to at least E by 2033, for residential buildings.
Fossil-fuel boilers will not be eligible to receive financial incentives as of 2027. However, Member States are required to provide roadmaps to phase out fossil fuels in heating and cooling by 2040 only, which risks keeping vulnerable households locked into fossil fuel infrastructure and pay the carbon pricing for the transition towards climate neutrality for decades to come.
On a positive note, Member States are required to invest in overcoming split incentives between landlords and tenants through their Building Renovation Action Plans (former Long Term Renovation Strategies).
But, overall, more social safeguards were needed in the renovation wave to include hard-to-reach groups, particularly low-income, vulnerable and energy poor households.
More ambitious MEPS are necessary to ensure that all indecent houses will be renovated to a high standard. Member States should be required to deliver deep renovation programmes, with adequate financial incentives and technical support, for identified target groups which often do not have access to mainstream funding.
Monitoring the social impact of renovations alone is not enough. Clear long-term measures should be designed to prevent evictions in social housing and make low-carbon energy systems affordable.
Far-sighted measures are needed to decarbonise buildings in a socially-just way and significantly alleviate energy poverty.