As pointed out by the European Commission, “the building sector is crucial for achieving the European Union’s energy and environmental goals”. To boost the energy performance of buildings, the European Union (EU) has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) – a major step to achieve the European Climate change goals. EUMEPS published a position paper on the matter pledging its support to the Directive’s ambitions
The impact of the building stock in Europe and the key role played by EPS materials
Buildings are responsible for 40% of the European’s energy consumption and 36% of energy-related greenhouse emissions. Unfortunately, as pointed out by the European Commission 75% of the existing building stock is energy inefficient; and only 1% is renovated each year. The EPBD wants to tackle these points thus offering a big opportunity for the EPS sector. By recently adopting its position for the “Trilogue negotiations” – equally tripartite meetings between the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament – on the EPBD, the European Parliament made its ambitions very clear: achieving a zero-emission and fully decarbonised building stock by 2050.
The EPBD’s impacts on the building Industry will be important. Measures designed to increase the renovation rate, modernise the building stock or facilitate investments in the building sector to fight energy poverty, to only name a few; will in consequence provide great opportunities for the Industry. Indeed, EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) used in buildings can only be seen as a key player to achieve not only the EPBD but also European’s climate change goals. To give an example of the efficiency and versatility of EPS, installing an External Thermal Insulation Composite System (ETICS) with EPS insulation material is one of the most effective ways to improve energy performance. With low transport costs and the integration of recycled EPS in insulation boards, the EPS building sector truly makes a significant contribution to the circular economy.
EUMEPS’ considerations on the EPBD
To reduce energy consumption, there needs to be a huge increase in the renovation, and EUMEPS sees the finalisation of the EPBD as a good first step.
Better insulation is the most effective way to improve energy efficiency, but the insulation material must retain its insulation performance for the lifetime of the building and thus without being impacted by moisture, mould growth or other ageing effects. EPS is perfect in that regard.
The EUMEPS also supports the European Parliament in calling on Member States to implement financial measures to enable cost-neutral renovation schemes. Such a measure would result in a huge lift-up in insulation renovation activity, economic growth and job creation, as seen in Italy with the recent “super bonus” scheme.
The EUMEPS also points out that if incorporating recycled EPS material is technically possible, the availability of recycled materials is currently limited as 85 to 95% of existing buildings will still be standing by 2050. The risk of limiting recycling contents to construction only, not taking into account other perfectly 100% recyclable EPS products such as EPS packaging also underlines the importance of cooperating with the Industry to assess the feasibility of any mandatory recycled content requirement.
The completion of a final EPBD will be a major step to achieve the European Climate change goals. And if the next challenge will be good communication with the Member States and a follow-up of National Renovation Plans; EUMEPS fully supports the ambitions expressed in the EBPD.