The European Commission releases a “Renovation Wave Strategy” for more energy-efficient buildings.

Decarbonisation of heating and cooling is among the top three priorities of the European Commission’s new “Renovation Wave Strategy”. The strategy promotes cooling and heating using waste heat or cold along with renewables.

Buildings are responsible for about 40% of the EU's energy consumption, and 36% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Yet only 1% of buildings undergo energy-efficient renovation each year. On 14 October, the European Commission published its “Renovation Wave Strategy”, an initiative to trigger building decarbonisation in Europe. [1]


European policy and funding have already had a positive impact on the energy efficiency of new buildings. However, 85% of buildings in the EU (over 220 million building units) were built more than 20 years ago. Most of these buildings are not energy efficient, they rely on fossil fuels for heating and cooling, and use old technologies and wasteful appliances. Energy poverty is also a major issue. With nearly 34 million Europeans unable to afford keeping their homes heated, public policies promoting energy-efficient renovation would help support people’s health and well-being and reduce their energy bills.


The aim of the strategy is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of residential and non-residential buildings by 2030 and to achieve higher energy and resource efficiency. To achieve this objective, seven areas of intervention have been identified, three of which are considered priorities for policy and financing: a) tackling energy poverty and worst-performing buildings; b) renovating public buildings, such as administrative,  educational  and healthcare  facilities and c) decarbonising heating  and cooling.


Decarbonisation of heating and cooling

In the EU, heating, cooling and domestic hot water account for around 80% of the energy consumed in residential buildings. To reach the objectives of the “Renovation Wave Strategy” and according to the impact assessment of the Climate Target Plan 2030, [2] the residential sector would have to undergo the highest reduction in energy demand in heating and cooling, ranging from -19% to -23%, compared to 2015. The annual replacement rate of heating equipment would have to reach about 4% in both the residential and service sectors. Additionally, the share of renewables and waste heat would have to increase to 38-42%.


By December 2020, Member States are required to provide the European Commission with their assessment of how to decarbonise their heating and cooling systems by using their  efficiency, renewable energy and waste heat potential.

By June 2021, based on a in-depth impact assessment, the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive [3] will consider strengthening the existing renewable heating and cooling target and introducing an obligation to use minimum levels of renewables in buildings. The revision will explore measures to promote highly efficient low-temperature renewable and waste-based heating and cooling technologies, as well as the development of local and regional heating and cooling plans. It will also promote the use of decarbonised gases that can create local synergies with municipal and agricultural waste recycling and industrial sectors. Access to heating and cooling from waste and renewable energy sources will be facilitated (e.g. excess heat or cold released from datacentres or shopping malls).


The “Renovation Wave Strategy” is available on Fridoc:



[1] “Renovation Wave” press release.

[2] 2030 Climate Target Plan.

[3] Renewable Energy Directive.