EU Buildings Climate Tracker: Urgency to close the buildings decarbonisation gap

The newly developed EU Buildings Climate Tracker finds that the EU is facing a growing gap in advancing towards climate neutrality in the sector. This first edition provides evidence for the urgent need for additional action that should be reflected in a transformational outcome of legislative discussions on the EPBD.

In 2020, BPIE developed a tracker to monitor global climate change action in the buildings and construction sector for the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Based on this work, BPIE developed a similar tracker for the EU: a high-level index showcasing the progress of the EU building stock towards full decarbonisation by 2050 on a 0-100 scale, starting from the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, until 2019, currently the last year for which indicator data is available. To keep close track of the evolution of the building stock in the EU, the index monitors progress yearly and will be updated regularly.

The Tracker index serves as a relevant benchmark and assessment tool for climate neutrality progress of the building stock in the EU consistently, year after year. This first edition provides evidence for the urgent need for additional action that should be reflected in a transformational outcome of legislative discussions on the EPBD.

The results show that the buildings sector is not on track to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. In 2019, the index has a calculated value of 0.48 on a scale between 0 (reference situation in 2015) and 100 (climate neutrality in 2050), while it should be at 14 points. The Tracker also indicates that building decarbonisation is far from progressing at the speed needed. The achieved progress between 2015 and 2019 was a 0.12 point annual improvement, while it should have been at 3.6 points.

This means that building decarbonisation is off track and much behind the path to climate neutrality by 2050. While the index should have been at 14 points in 2019, it is barely above 0, thus at almost the same level in 2019 as in 2015. Put differently, four years of potential progress towards climate neutrality by 2050 have been lost.

To catch up, the annual rate of improvement as of 2019 until 2030, must now be at 5 points per year.

Besides a tracked progress of building decarbonisation in Europe, this briefing outlines a few recommendations to be considered for the EPBD revision:

  • Deep renovation should be the default approach to EPBD measures and be prioritised and integrated into the design of financing programs
  • Minimum Energy Performance Standards should be applied to the whole building stock, in order to bring buildings up to a higher level of energy performance than in the Commission proposal, and to outline a path with clearly indicated milestones between 2030 and 2050 for the entire stock to be Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB) by 2050
  • ZEB standards for all new buildings should be applicable as of 2025, with no fossil fuel heating allowed
  • Subsidies to fossil fuel heating systems should be stopped as soon as possible and funding streams should be re-directed towards the installation of renewable based equipment, in line with a coherent and comprehensive renovation roadmap
  • Fossil fuel systems in existing buildings should be phased out by 2035 at the latest
  • Solar rooftop obligations stemming from the REPowerEU plan should be combined with attic and roof insulation
  • Industrial type renovation projects, as well as advisory services such as one-stop-shops and Renovation Passports to achieve deep renovations, should be boosted by using available money from the Recovery & Resilience Facility, cohesion funding, and ETS revenues
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