By Louise White and Reinhard Six
The electricity and fuel used to heat, cool and light buildings account for nearly 40% of energy consumption in Europe and are responsible for around 35% of greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings are the single biggest consumers of energy, so making them more efficient can have a big impact on the race to meet climate goals.
The challenge is immense. Nearly half of all European residential buildings were constructed before 1970, when materials, standards and techniques didn’t consider how much energy was consumed. Many of these older buildings will still be in use in 2050 and beyond. The European Commission estimates that 75 percent of buildings and housing could be made more energy efficient, while less than 1% of housing is renovated each year for energy efficiency.
The European Union wants to cut overall emissions by 40% by 2030 and increase energy efficiency by more than 30%. The European Investment Bank’s ambition to finance €1 trillion in climate action by 2030 is key to achieving these targets. Here are some of the tools the EU bank and its partners will be using to get the job done.
Consuming less energy
Energy efficiency in buildings is achieved by measures that result in lower gas or electricity consumption for the same comfort. For example, by retrofitting a home — adding better insulation to the roof and walls, or installing a new boiler — you get the same comfortable temperature, but you use less energy. Modern LED lighting and skylights provide the same illumination levels, but use much less electricity. Smart homes that turn off gas or power after a certain time also help cut energy use. Energy efficient windows and doors can make a difference in energy bills and comfort. Smart meters also help save money.