By P Gosselin on 15. March 2023
The European Parliament has just given the green light for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) on Tuesday (14 March).
The law would lead to massive renovation costs for millions of homeowners who are already saddled by inflation and falling incomes as green energies and supply woes plague the continent. Where will the money come from?
First introduced in 2002, the directive has since been revised multiple times, and aims at improving the energy performance of the national building stocks through energy efficiency. The objective is to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions.
The latest directive means updating building laws and forcing higher rates of renovation. It passed on March 14, with 343 votes in favor, 216 against and 78 abstentions. The latest version of the directive is part of the “Fit for 55” climate package.
The Parliament also wants to increase the number of households installing solar panels and to get rid of fossil fuel heating systems. European member states must adopt plans to phase out fossil fuel use in buildings by 2035.
35 million buildings affected
“An estimated 35 million buildings across Europe will be affected by the planned new regulations,” Spiegel reports here. It is estimated it would cost Germany 254 billion euros alone.
Supporters say citizens will benefit from lower energy bills and more jobs. It will also reduce Europe’s dependency on fuel imports from Russia, they claim.
The European Commission has a building energy performance scale for buildings that ranges from A (best) to G (worst) efficiency.
The EU’s target is to get every building to be carbon neutral.
Already there’s broad opposition
However,, with the vote in the EU Parliament, the plans have not yet been decided. The EU member states and the European Parliament still have to approve the targets before they can come into force.
“That’s pie-in-the-sky policymaking from cuckoo land. It’s neither affordable nor feasible,” said head of the Haus&Grund association Kai Warnecke to Bild newspaper.
“There are differences between countries,” said Finnish centrist Marui Pekkarinen. “In some countries, the proposal goes too high”, citing Finland as an example, where heating is largely decarbonized.
Critics warn of government red-tape and an administrative burden that would be caused. Others are questioning how all of it would be funded. Renovating older homes to be highly energy efficient means substantial investments in new windows, rooves, insulation, heating systems, which altogether can run well into the tens of thousands of euros per living unit. This would make many buildings and homes “worthless”.
“A lot of European money available”
Green MEP Bas Eickhout, however, pointed out: “There is a lot of European money available and it will deliver on climate, lower energy bills, jobs and less dependency on Russia. You should be in favor of that,” he said.
The costs will be on addition to those to be incurred through the EU’s plans to force people to buy electric cars and to eliminate all fossil fuel heating systems.