Renovation Wave

In brief

In its Green Deal, the European Commission has introduced a renovation wave of public and private buildings. It aims to create the necessary conditions to modernise the buildings sector in light of technological improvements, scale up renovations, and reap the significant saving potential of the building sector.

Our view

In further elaborating the regulatory framework, the following key principles need to be kept in mind:

  • Renovation of buildings is part of a larger challenge for the construction sector which also needs to play a central role in developing the necessary infrastructure that will improve the quality of citizens' life while bringing benefits to the economy and the society;
  • The renovation agenda needs to be integrated in an urban agenda where long-term planning looks at how residential and non-residential buildings fit into tomorrow’s urban landscape;
  • Building renovation is not limited to energy efficiency, it should include a focus on material efficiency and the circular economy
  • In the same context, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) are part of a larger regulatory framework where all initiatives announced in the Green Deal such as the Sustainable Product policy, Green Public Procurement need to be developed with an eye for consistency and coordination of definitions and concepts;
  • Throughout that regulatory framework, attention for a cross-material life cycle assessment at the level of the building should be one of the key policy drivers
  • A renovation wave should focus on deep renovation and also consider rebuild. Worst performing buildings neither offer flexibility for new functional/social needs with simple renovation, nor will significantly increase the building life expectancy or have a strong impact on energy efficiency, CO2 reduction, or resilience (seismic risk, structural performance, material degradation). Applying the current knowledge and techniques to new buildings would deliver energy efficiency and longer life span, and incorporate a circular approach, based on durability, flexibility for future adaptation, and due consideration of reuse and recycling an element.

A renovation wave in the residential housing market requires financing mechanisms and fiscal incentives; sizeable energy efficiency gains can, in most cases, only be achieved through a deep renovation, especially for a building stock that, for a majority, still predates 1980; in practice, however, households will need to temporarily move out of their houses and heavily invest; close cooperation with the financial sector and a detailed mapping of the needs need to be part of the renovation wave initiative.


Position Paper
EU Renovation Wave