Public, cooperative and social housing providers work with householders managing homes for the long term and on a budget. With their ear to the ground they keep Housing Europe informed on what is needed to join the dots if we are to meet 2020, 2030 and 2050 EU energy efficiency and CO2 reduction targets. The specifics vary; however the consensus is that we need to adopt a four-pronged approach.

  1. What is needed to make the market deliver Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings which are easier and cheaper to build and manage?

Housing providers must ensure that the market delivers nearly-zero energy homes which are both simpler and cheaper to build and manage.

We know it can be done, but more pressure on market actors is needed so that it is done at affordable prices. This year’s Solar Decathlon Europe entries demonstrated that it is technically possible.

Monitoring and verification of long-term performance in terms of comfort, energy consumption costs and often hidden maintenance costs is another missing link. For this reason a key part of the Nearly Zero Energy Challenge, supported by the IEE programme, is the tracking and online publication of energy consumption data of 30 low energy buildings.

More about the market transition: Housing Europe President Kurt Eliasson’s speech at the Fair Energy Transition Symposium, Housing Europe Letter to President Barroso, Summary of the Housing Europe workshop on building refurbishment at the 2010 World Sustainable Energy Days, and BUILD UP Community ‘Coordination of Professionals in Energy Renovations.

EU policy driver: EBPD recast

Current policy development: European Commission’s strategy on the competitiveness of the construction sector


  1. What is required to reach the renovation rates necessary to meet targets?

Housing providers welcome the EU’s proposal to use 20% of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) on carbon emission reduction in the 2014-2020 funding period and are working to turn this proposal into real projects. The EU and its public banks can go even further to increase the attractiveness of energy efficiency as an investment for financial institutions by guaranteeing loans and thereby reducing risks and costs. The key to a successful refurbishment work, after all, is a well-thought through financing scheme. If we want deeper building renovation, financing schemes – such as loans, subsidies or third party financing with energy performance contracts – must be adapted accordingly.

Improving collaboration along the building chain has also been identified as a must to enabling delivery, bringing down costs of both renovation works and maintenance. Concrete ways to overcome administrative obstacles have been identified and are being demonstrated by the SHELTER project.

More about financing to improve renovation rates: Housing Europe Position on the DG ENER Consultation on Financing, Guide to ERDF and Social Housing, and Review of the use of Structural Funds for energy efficiency in housing.

EU policy driver: Energy Efficiency Directive

Current policy development: DG ENER’s communication on financing


  1. What is needed to boost decentralised energy production and ownership?

After reducing energy demand, if buildings are truly to become ‘nearly zero’, they must become an integrated component of the energy producing infrastructure. Social housing providers are installing not only PV and solar thermal, other renewable technologies and combined heat and power, but are also working with anaerobic digestion using grass cuttings and converting methane to electricity. A thorough revision of tax laws, energy regulation and a framework of long-term incentives is needed to make this common practice. Smart meters, smart homes, and the smart grid are all on the horizon, facilitating transparency for end-users, as well as local production, storage, consumption and ownership. If the EU ensures standards which require 100% system interoperability, smart systems will be a key factor in ensuring competition and affordability.

More about decentralised energy and related ICT pilot projects: POWER HOUSE EUROPE.

EU policy driver: Renewable Energy Directive

Current policy development: European Parliament report ‘Current challenges and opportunities for renewable energy in the European internal energy market’ (now under preparation).


  1. What is needed to bring initiatives together? Community outreach and trust

52 million people cannot afford to heat their homes in the EU. Unless policy makers make serious efforts to address this issue like in the United Kingdom, trust will not be forthcoming. Energy efficiency and renewable energy must be made accessible for all – not only for those who can afford it.