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Thematic Lunch 'Modernising buildings and infrastructure'

Thematic Lunch 'Modernising buildings and infrastructure'

The need to address the existing building stock is mainly driven by energy efficiency considerations. Buildings alone are responsible in Europe for 40% of energy consumption, which makes it the single biggest potential sector for energy savings. For this reason, both the Energy Performance of Buildings and the Energy Efficiency Directives set targets to buildings to achieve the 20-20-20 strategy, and the latter even sets a minimum amount of total floor area to be renovated yearly by central governments.

It is assessed that today 75% of the existing building stock in Europe is “energy inefficient”; as a consequence, part of this existing building stock needs a renovation to meet the present needs. This can be necessary for achieving the energy efficient targets set by the owner or by policy makers. Buildings needing more than 300 kWh/m².year (labelled E, F or G) could be scaled up to less than 100 kWh/m².year (B or C, more rarely A). As an alternative, a new building could replace an existing one and provide A-label performance, zero-energy and even positive energy. But reasons other than the energy consumption may entail a renovation. The changing or newly defined needs, the adaptation for accessibility, improving internal comfort, healthier environment and fire safety are examples of these motives. Some of them may be monetised like for energy consumption, other may only be assessed in a qualitative way. In any case, the alternative options (minor or major renovation, rebuilding) should be considered, an analysis performed and the best option chosen. This is particularly true for infrastructure, where other benefits (e.g. traffic reduction, emissions drop) take priority over energy considerations. The negative image of demolition has been considered in the past as a barrier to the rebuilding option. With the development of deconstruction and circular economy principles in the market, it is today possible to turn this into a positive perspective if smart planning allows the results of deconstruction to be fully reused for the same or other applications. In most cases, it is easier to recycle materials coming from deconstruction than from refurbishment.

On 3 December 2015 stakeholders gathered for the thematic lunch organised by The Concrete Initiative to debate the modernisation of buildings and infrastructure with a smart mix of new, rebuilt and renovated construction works. Participants included representatives from both Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and Directorate-General for Energy of the European Commission as well as the Permanent Representation of Spain, the Belgian Demolition Association and experts in the field of sustainable development from industry and academia.

During the debate the participants explored drivers for achieving an energy efficient and sustainable building and infrastructure stock. Several presentations on the importance of pre-assessment and cost-analysis contributed to the debate. All agreed that addressing the existing building stock is fundamental to increase the global energy efficiency of a country or a region. A certain amount of older buildings are no longer fit for purpose in terms of energy use, financial viability and social needs. Therefore, the renovation of these buildings would not necessarily be beneficial. Experts suggested that when renovation is decided, different options (including deconstruction and rebuilding) should be considered and the calculations should be done from a broader societal and a long term perspective. One of the points requiring further reflection is energy storage in buildings which should also be considered.

In conclusion, the participants highlighted the need of a suitable framework which ensures a level playing field and allows for a holistic view and long-term thinking when making a decision whether renovate or rebuild.

Presentations given during the event:

01 - Thematic Lunch - Dansk Byggeri - Modernising buildings

02 - Thematic Lunch - EC DG ENER - EPBD

03 - Thematic Lunch - EMA - Drivers

04 - Thematic Lunch - EDA - Demolition and deconstruction

05 - Thematic Lunch - TNO - Rebuilding option

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