18 July 2019

Private building renovations can help achieve climate targets

Statistically, 40 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of emissions come from buildings. Although this has prompted energy efficiency to become one of the EU’s top priorities and led the EU to acknowledge that buildings are key to achieving its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050, it is not always easy to encourage deep renovation.

Such renovations can be highly impactful. In addition to contributing to reaching sustainability goals, renovating buildings often leads to a reduction in energy used, potential to switch to renewable energy sources, and reduced energy bills. This process also provides a number of societal benefits, including better health and quality of life for building occupants, local job creation, enhanced economic activity, higher value of real estate, and improved attractiveness of a city.

In an effort to align their emissions with global and national climate and energy targets, cities have so far mainly focused on updating public buildings. However, cities can be key players that can help overcome a number of market barriers and reluctance from owners to renovate private buildings.

The TripleA-reno project, for which ICLEI Europe is a partner, seeks to work with local authorities and stakeholders to do just that. The project will provide support to customers and end-users in the process of building renovation, starting from the design to the construction and usage phases. This will be done using a “gamified” online platform – in other words, the platform will function like a game – that will be simultaneously tested in eight demonstration cases across European cities. Each case will focus on another building category, with different ownership and management models.

One of the demonstration cases is in ICLEI Member Bologna (Italy). There, two multi-family social housing buildings located in Piazza da Verrazzano have received funding from the Emilia Romagna Region to carry out a deep renovation. This will not only improve their energy efficiency, but also users’ health, indoor environmental quality and user satisfaction. Most of all, the renovation will take place involving the people actually living there and with the overall goal to make deep renovation “Attractive, Acceptable and Affordable.”

Pursuant to the TripleA-reno framework, project partners will establish dialogue among all actors in the renovation process, and provide them with targeted information and research. They will also develop an inventory of user groups through a questionnaire and interviews with inhabitants. Research will determine the relationship between energy use, indoor environmental quality and users’ willingness to pay for energy. All results will be the basis for drafting recommendations that support the development of the “Open Gamified Platform” and future business models.

ICLEI Europe will also organise workshops for representatives of cities who would benefit from using this platform as a reliable source of information for consumers lost in the multitude of fragmented information available on deep renovation. The platform will outline steps and stakeholders that need to be taken into account during a deep renovation process, and will serve as a helpdesk for building renovation, outlining the full customer journey, and with a view to improve energy efficiency and ultimately quality of life.

For more information, please visit the TripleA-reno project website.