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Renovate for energy efficiency

Dec 17 2020

Mr Arkadiusz Haras provided the foreword to the final 2020 edition of EPPM Magazine.

To pursue decarbonisation and economic growth, the European Commission has launched a new strategy to boost renovation in buildings called ‘A Renovation Wave for Europe – Greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives’.

Just one per cent of buildings undergoes energy efficient renovation every year, and roughly 75 per cent of the building stock is energy inefficient. The EU Renovation Wave is crucial for making Europe climate-neutral by 2050. At EUMEPS, we believe that the project would benefit from a broader green recovery agenda, as it is a key initiative to drive energy efficiency in the construction sector.

The EU Renovation Wave is clearly good for companies that produce high-performance insulation such as EPS for existing buildings, while also promoting other goals including increasing the use of recycled materials. Building efficiency ticks the first box in the green economy priorities of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’.

In Europe, buildings account for 40 per cent of energy consumption and 36 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. There’s a lot of valuable energy wasted by heating and cooling buildings that could easily be made more efficient. Reducing the amount of energy wasted is essential to the EU’s carbon neutrality goal.

EPS is an environmentally friendly material with great thermal and sound insulation properties, which help save expensive heating energy and reduce noise impact to a minimum.

A recent independent comparative assessment conducted for German public authorities underlined the outstanding ecological performance of EPS insulation throughout its lifecycle, including at the end of its (first) life. For many key applications, it ranks EPS as the most ecological option among renewable, mineral-based and other synthetic materials.

We are proud to say that EPS has proven to be among the best thermal insulation materials. Consisting of 98 per cent air, it is inherently resource-efficient. Due to its outstanding insulation performance, EPS saves a lot of energy and CO2 over its entire service life, which could be 100 years. At the end of this, it can be recycled, including back into new building insulation. PolyStyreneLoop, an EU LIFE-supported industry project, demonstrates economically viable, closed-loop recycling of EPS at industrial scale.

We embrace the Commission’s finding that buildings are critical for making circularity work, and its objective to implement the Renovation Wave in line with circular economy principles. Building renovation can also help create demand for recycled materials and thus promote the circular economy. EPS is widely recycled already, and the industry is committed to increasing recycling rates through projects involving the whole supply chain.

Decarbonisation and energy efficiency require a transformative approach in the way we live, and the building sector plays a crucial role in this. In order to help jump-start Europe’s economies, whilst investing in climate change mitigation and combatting energy poverty, the EU needs to prioritise those investments that will make an immediate contribution towards its climate neutrality goals. EPS insulation is a precious material in the fight against energy loss and to be carbon neutral by 2050.