To highlight the strategic importance of the construction sector, the recently initiated Belgian Presidency of the European Council decided to organize its “Renovation Week” at the start of its term. This week, from January 15 to 18, 4 days of exchanges were entirely dedicated to the renovation of the built environment and buildings, in which EBC was naturally invited to participate.
Based on the well-known facts that buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption, 36% of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, but also that heating, cooling and domestic hot water account for 80% of the energy that EU citizens consume, Belgium invited to discuss the increasing importance of renovation as a cornerstone of change towards a greener and more liveable future. The event held a special focus on European policy makers, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping regulations and standards that can propel the renovation movement and deliver energy-efficient homes.
While the protocolar opening on day 1 discussed how to navigate the renovation challenges in the EU, EBC was invited to speak on the second day under the umbrella topic “Transitioning the Building Sector for Tomorrow”.
More specifically, EBC Secretary General Fernando Sigchos Jiménez joined the panel discussion “Towards 2050: Deep Renovations in the Construction Sector co-hosted by the Belgian research centre Buildwise. With the recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings directive (EPBD) around the corner, most of the exchanges focused on the need of quality Energy performance certificates, the interconnection with Building Renovation Passports to help define a renovation trajectory, the practical added value of one-stop shops (OSS) for energy renovation, and the fundamental need to solve the skills and training bottleneck.
Mr Sigchos Jiménez emphasized that the EPBD is an opportunity to boost activity and change the image and narrative of the construction sector, provided the right financial schemes are set up. He insisted on the need to support both small gestures and deep renovation, on a case-by-case basis, with the support of OSS as the indispensable local pragmatic hubs of guidance and collaboration. He highlighted however the absolute need to find solutions to the skilled labour shortage in the sector, which could undermine any EU environmental and energy ambitions.
On the third day the focus shifted towards the role of materials’ circularity and life cycle driving the transition towards sustainable buildings. The EBC team participated in discussions that demonstrated how the selection of the right materials and the adoption of a circular economy approach can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. The conference highlighted practical steps, challenges, training, tools, and concrete examples of sustainable practices in construction. The day concluded with visits to pioneering buildings and renovation sites in Brussels that are implementing circular principles in their construction. The last day covered the social and sociotechnical aspects of energy renovation, touching upon district-scale energy renovation, vulnerable households support, collective and individual perceptions of energy renovation and the necessary bridge with the innovation community.
The Belgian Renovation Week ended with a closing discussion on the salient elements of all sessions intended to accelerate and deepen building renovation across the EU.
EBC congratulates Belgium on highlighting renovation at such an early stage in its Presidency programme, reflecting the pivotal importance of energy efficiency in achieving the goal of a low-carbon Europe by 2050, and looks forward to further direct exchanges on issues of crucial importance to construction SMEs and craft businesses.
|To read more about the program of the 6-month Belgian Presidency of the Council, visit the website www.belgian-presidency.consilium.europa.eu