The serious and large-scale mechanisms needed to create substantive change in retrofitting are long overdue.

The vast majority of action towards energy efficiency in buildings has arguably been in words – through the creation of policies, strategies and targets for the slightly too distant future, established through too many meetings, workshops and conferences. Action has to be taken to mean physical changes in behaviour, financial investments and real solutions on the ground that fundamentally changes the way our buildings meet their consumption needs. Anything else is moving too slowly.

New measures are required to enable the scale and pace of change needed to develop and deliver integrated building renovation projects that cut across key urban systems, able to be replicated across cities throughout the world. It is an enormous task – which needs to be financed. This cannot and will not happen incrementally. For too long, investments in retrofitting solutions have suffered from being small and disaggregated. We must solve this, and missing this opportunity is no longer acceptable and cannot just be overlooked.

To address this challenge, EIT Climate-KIC assembled policy makers, industry, funders and developers to showcase the innovations that they are seeing within their portfolio and to look at the magic ingredients to scale retrofit across Europe. This included updates in the finance space (linking retrofit costs to the building rather than the individual), capital platforms being developed, innovation in materials and data to help inspire and inform policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders to raise the ambition on climate and energy related regulation.

Key takeaways

Bringing together key players in Brussels

The inaugural Renovation Innovation Showcase attracted a diverse range of stakeholders and policy-makers, notably with an excellent representation of various representatives from different European Commission DGs and EASME, business representatives, think tanks and academia, as well as NGOs. The discussion proved that a systemic approach, addressing several barriers and levers of change, is crucial to accelerate Europe’s retrofit rate in a Paris Climate Agreement compliant way.

  • Innovative financing and business models are required, with one solution being the loan for the deep retrofit attached to the property rather than the person and thus enabling a longer-term perspective that is need for the payback of such investments.
  • Circularity and sustainability of building materials, as well as the considerations around embedded carbon need to be looked at to reduce climate and environmental impact. Indeed, ambition and the need for more ambitious approaches, both in delivery of solutions but also in terms of goal setting and policymaking, was highlighted from several actors.
  • Coherent and comparable data and information of the buildings stock and performance of buildings is extremely relevant to make informed, evidence-based decisions. Given the breadth of already existing information platforms (i.e. from the European Commission, but also others), the discussions also circled around the need to further leverage the reach and impact, and perhaps integrate them further.

We from EIT Climate-KIC thank all presenters and participants for their attendance and the interesting presentations and discussions. Please find the event agenda and event booklet as well as the presentations from the event:

Event Summary

From innovation to action

After introducing EIT Climate-KIC and its new strategy and activities the building renovation space by Sean Lockie, Director Urban Transitions, Margot Pinault from the Energy Efficiency Unit of the European Commission’s DG ENER gave a concise overview of the newly adapted Clean Energy Package, and specifically the updated Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Energy Efficiency Directive the implications of the long-term renovation strategies.

Then three successful innovations solutions from the EIT Climate-KIC innovation portfolio were presented:

  • The Building Market Briefs, represented by York Ostermeyer, Managing Director of Cues Analytics and professor at Chalmers University, showcased how comparable data of European countries’ building stock can enable decision-makers and developers, and hopefully also policy-makers, to inform renovation strategies.
  • Jasper Sluimer, co-founder and CEO of BIK bouw, presented how the 2ndSKIN solutions uses and integrated approach and scalable approach to effectively and efficiently renovate apartment blocks from the outside, allowing tenants to remain in their apartment with limited disturbance.
  • Stef Röell, Manager Financial Instruments at the Economic Board of Utrecht, explained to the audience, how Utrecht has managed to establish a national fund of €600 million for financing deep retrofit of Homeowner Associations (HOAs) buildings within just a year after piloting the financing and process support approach locally.

Last but not least, this was followed by a lively and interesting discussion and Q&A, with the audience and the speakers from above, moderated by Helen Spence-Jackson, Head of EU Affairs at EIT Climate-KIC.


Setting long-term targets

Following the adoption of the Clean Energy Package setting long-term targets for 2030, 2019 will be a critical year for Member States to decide which policy tools can deliver results. Long-term building renovation strategies will be key to supporting the decarbonisation of the EU building stock while National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) will outline measures contributing to reaching the targets. What does this mean for research and innovation in the building renovation sector? Will this new framework be able to mobilise investments to drive innovation in urban retrofit, smart technologies and skills?

As the European knowledge and innovation community working towards a climate-resilient society, EIT Climate-KIC supports the transformation of cities by delivering innovation projects which contribute to a net zero economy.

We often hear that policy makers would like to be more aware of real ‘on the ground’ examples and solutions. We therefore invited a broad range of relevant stakeholders to our inaugural Renovation Innovation Showcase’’ event, where three key solutions from our innovation portfolio addressing decarbonisation of buildings in Europe were presented (including Building Market Briefs, 2ndSKIN, Financing Near-zero Energy Building Renovations in Utrecht Province).

Thank you for joining us to explore the key barriers and opportunities for innovation in this space, while we drive forward with the new EIT Climate-KIC mission to retrofit 1 million homes across the EU to carbon neutrality by 2023.

The event took place on 20 March 2019 from 8:30 to 11:00 at the EIT House, 7 Rue Guimard in Brussels.