We must invest today in the buildings of tomorrow

Door Mohammed Chahim op 4 mei 2020

In the COVID-19 aftermath, making our buildings energy efficient is key to reconcile Europe’s climate objectives with rapid economic recovery. To get this done we need an ambitious policy roadmap at EU level, write Bertrand Deprez and Mohammed Chahim.

Bertrand Deprez is Vice-Chair of the board of the European Alliance to Save Energy & Mohammed Chahim, Member of the European Parliament. Article published on Euractiv.

The European Union is facing a great challenge: how to quickly re-build Europe’s economy in the context of COVID-19 while ensuring to keep itself on the path to become climate neutral by 2050.

The renovation wave is one of the key pillars of the European Green Deal, which should be at the core of the post-COVID-19 recovery plan.

Against this background, investing in decarbonising buildings is key to reconcile climate objectives and economic recovery, in a virtuous way. Indeed, the renovation wave is one of the key pillars of the European Green Deal, which should be at the core of the post-COVID-19 recovery plan.

The reasons beyond this are easy to grasp. Buildings are the single largest energy consumer with approximately 40% of EU energy consumption. This value is estimated to go up to 50% if the construction industry and its upstream value chain are included.

Buildings are where people live and work, and where people spend 95% of their time.

Moreover, as urbanisation increases sharply, up to 68% by 2050 versus 55% today, with a multiplication by 2 of existing building stock globally, in Europe, the volume of floor additions could top 20 billion square meters by 2050.

The building sector represents today 7-10% of the workforce in OECD, a major source of employment, hence economic growth and social welfare, with SMEs contributing to more than 70% of the value-added in EU’s building sector. This represents about 18 million direct jobs.

Enabling the transition towards buildings of the future could enable new ways to manage energy through local energy communities and ‘prosumers’

Buildings are where people live and work, and where people spend 95% of their time. Enabling the transition towards buildings of the future could enable new ways to manage energy through local energy communities and ‘prosumers’ (consumers who both consume and produce energy, usually electricity).

Finally, Europe has a lot of strengths in this area, with leading players covering the whole spectrum of the value chain (construction industry, technology providers, utilities, services business, and specialised software companies).

In this context, investing in energy efficiency in buildings is a unique opportunity to realise a “Just transition”. Just transition because contributing to creating local jobs, pulling out low-income people from energy poverty, providing decent and comfortable environments, and on-boarding citizens in a local vision of the energy transition.

Investing in energy efficiency in buildings is a unique opportunity to realise a “Just transition”.

Buildings of the future can be at the heart of the green transition in Europe if we manage to combine the principle of energy efficiency first with the deployment of distributed energy resources and the rise of digital technologies. These are the conditions for the ultra-efficient buildings of tomorrow to become the critical pillar of a fully decarbonised energy system.

It could transform our buildings into prosumers and fundamentally change how people, how end-users consume and produce their energy.

Achieving that requires adopting a system efficiency approach for our buildings, our urban districts, and our cities. Such an effort would be worthwhile because it could transform our buildings into prosumers and fundamentally change how people, how end-users consume and produce their energy.

Mohammed Chahim

Mohammed Chahim

Mohammed Chahim (Fez, 18 april 1985) is sinds 4 juli 2019 namens de PvdA lid van het Europees Parlement.  “De PvdA is voor mij de partij die staat voor gelijke kansen voor iedereen, een partij die helpt mensen te emanciperen. Als kind van migrantenouders ben ik hiervan een levend voorbeeld. Ik wil me inzetten voor een inclusieve samenleving. Helaas is

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