19 October, 2022

Buildings directive must deliver warm homes for winters to come

Today, ahead of the Energy Council next week, we have called on the EU to protect the most vulnerable households from unaffordable energy prices.

Our open letter to EU Energy Ministers points out that the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), part of the EU’s strategy to decarbonise homes and tackle energy poverty, is underperforming for the worst homes and needs to include Minimum Performance Standards (MEPS) with social safeguards in order to boost renovations and protect the most vulnerable.

Indecent, wasteful and unsafe housing is a root case of energy poverty. 75% of the EU’s building stock is deemed inefficient, leading to an estimated annual public health burden of more than €140 billion. The EPBD offers a tangible opportunity to create sustainable, warm, and energy efficient homes for everyone in Europe, whilst breaking fossil fuel addiction at the same time.

But the current legislation lacks the funds and subsidies that the worst performing buildings, and low-income households need most. Laia Segura, Climate and Energy Justice Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe and Co-Coordinator of the Right to Energy Coalition said

“The EU has not done enough to renovate buildings, and the cost of their inaction is now being suffered by the most vulnerable. EU Ministers need to ensure this legislation prioritises standards for unsafe and inefficient housing, and create a roadmap for decarbonising homes of low-income households through targeted funds and subsidies for vulnerable households.”

By including Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) with social safeguards into the EPBD, Member States will be able to identify the housing stock that needs to be renovated, when it needs to be renovated by and to which standard. It also offers insight to the supply chain and investment opportunities, as well as directing the use of public funds.

If the EU fails to secure strong minimum standards for homes, financing is likely to be diverted and used for other types of buildings in other sectors leaving homes behind.

The energy price crisis makes delivering long-term strategies for eradicating energy poverty even more pressing. Damage control to shield vulnerable households from skyrocketing energy prices this winter is crucial, but this alone won’t solve the energy crisis or eradicate energy poverty. What’s needed are long-term solutions to tackle one of the most significant causes of energy poverty: inadequate and unsafe housing that’s bad for people’s health and wealth. “Decent homes should be a standard and a political priority”, adds Sabrina Iannazzone, Policy and Advocacy Officer at European Anti-Poverty Network EU.

The Buildings Directive reboot is a crucial opportunity to provide home renovations that will drastically reduce household energy bills, deliver tangible improvements to people’s everyday lives, and showcase the benefits of the energy transition.