Czech Republic lags behind in building renovation
The Czech Republic is lagging behind in building renovation. But the EU as a whole must speed up or it will not achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.
A report published on 26 November 2023, which tracks progress in decarbonising buildings, shows that EU countries are not renovating buildings fast enough. Central and Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic, are the worst off. To contribute to meeting the 2050 climate targets while protecting their citizens from high energy prices, they need to accelerate the pace of quality building renovations to energy-efficient standards by two to three times. Including through a sufficiently ambitious setting of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
According to the EU Buildings Climate Tracker (EU BCT), now in its second edition, EU countries are not renovating their buildings fast enough to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. They are also lagging behind in meeting their 2030 climate targets. The report tracked progress between 2015 and 2020 and the results show the gap between the current state and the values needed to achieve climate neutrality:
- CO2 emissions from energy use in buildings are 18% higher than the required target, according to the report.
- Renewable energy for heating and cooling is 30% below the target.
- Cumulative investment in renovation in 2020 was 40% below the target.
The situation is slightly worse in the Czech Republic and other CEE countries. Moreover, the lagging pace of renovation is further increasing the risk of energy poverty for the population. According to an analysis by CERO VŠE this year, up to 30% of households in the Czech Republic are at risk of energy poverty. Energy prices here are among the most expensive in the EU, with 9 out of 10 Czechs struggling with energy prices, according to a recent survey by Budovy21. But most of them implement only minor measures. However, the biggest energy savings, 65-85%, can only be achieved by a comprehensive renovation of the house.
Michal Čejka, an energy saving consultant from the Passive House Centre, says: "People often try to protect themselves against high energy prices by lowering the heating temperature and implementing smaller measures on the building envelope, acquiring a more environmentally friendly heating source or installing photovoltaics. But often without a coherent concept. However, only a comprehensive renovation of the house designed by an expert will bring the highest and lasting savings in energy and greenhouse gas emissions. In order to make renovation truly effective and accessible to as many people as possible, the state must support free energy advice and the design of energy-saving measures, while at the same time expanding investment support options to include soft renovation loans that would help pre-finance and co-finance subsidies from programmes such as the New Green Savings Scheme. The state should lead by example and focus on quality renovation of its own buildings such as offices, hospitals and schools."
Pavel Zemene, chairman of the EPS Czech Republic Association, said: "The results of the BPIE report confirm what we have been saying for years. We need to accelerate the pace of quality building insulation by two to three times. Now is also the right time for insulation. Whereas 10 years ago an investment in insulation had a payback period of around 20 years, with subsidies it was less than 15 years.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), currently under discussion, is an opportunity for conceptual and long-term work to accelerate and improve renovation of all types of buildings.
After a two and a half year process, negotiations on the recast EPBD are expected to be concluded by the end of this year and Member State representatives are expected to agree on a final text.
"The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), as the main legislative instrument to advance the decarbonisation of buildings in the EU, must set us clearly on the path towards meeting our 2030 targets and further towards climate neutrality in 2050," says Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of BPIE. The final form of the EPBD will be crucial to address the lack of progress in decarbonising buildings in the EU, the report says. To move the EU closer to meeting its 2050 carbon neutrality targets, minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) should be designed to address the worst performing buildings first. At the same time, the Directive should set clear milestones and deadlines. For new buildings, which will already be so-called zero-emission under the new standards, the Directive should set clearer rules for decarbonising heating and cooling systems. About The EU Buildings Climate Tracker (EU BCT) The EU BCT has been developed by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE). It tracks the progress of buildings towards climate neutrality by 2050 in the form of an index covering the period from 2015 to 2020. The tracker corresponds to an index composed of a set of five indicators tracking CO2 emissions, final energy consumption, share of renewable energy, investment in renovation and domestic energy expenditure. Looking at progress between 2015 and 2020, the results for most indicators show a gap between the current situation and the values needed to achieve climate neutrality. This year's edition includes an EU-wide analysis and a specific analysis for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
Compared to last year's results, the decarbonisation gap is narrowing slightly, but not to the extent that the sector is approaching climate neutrality. The value of the indicator monitored for 2020 should be 18.1 points, but only reached 7.8 points. The difference is more than 10 decarbonisation points. Based on the current situation, progress in decarbonising the European building stock needs to be made by 4.7 points each year to get on track by 2030.
The analysis for Central and Eastern European countries shows an even more worrying trend: by 2020, progress in decarbonising the building stock is 21 points off the required decarbonisation rate, the largest gap since the start of the reporting period in 2015. Therefore, the CEE region needs to make decarbonisation progress of 5.7 points each year to be on track by 2030.