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How is ventilation, heating and cooling related to the EU Renovation Wave?

Most of us have heard about the European Green Deal and the EU Renovation Wave, the latter in particular is well known in our industry of ventilation, heating and cooling (HVAC). But why have the European Union launched this initiative, what are the goals and what does it mean to us?

We will in this blog post broadly describe EU Renovation Wave, and we will give indications of how the HVAC industry in Europe can contribute to meet the ambitious goals set forward by the European Union. An initial look at the scope of the initiative is a good way to start.

EU Renovation Wave is an initiative introduced under the umbrella of the European Green Deal and it is fundamentally aiming towards a transformation of the use of resources and energy dependency for buildings across Europe. The scale of the task is significant, as buildings account for 40% of the energy consumption in EU and 36% of the unions greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiative is highly ambitious and it is strategically designed to tackle the enormous challenge of climate change. The applied strategy aims to double the current renovation rate of 1% of buildings per year, a target which can be translated into about 35 million building renovations by 2030. The goal is to achieve a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. Further, EU Renovation Wave also addresses the urgent need for job creation and social equity across the region. The increased renovation rate can potentially create up to 160 000 green jobs in the construction sector by 2030. In addition, EU Renovation Wave also aims to tackle energy poverty by making it a priority to renovate housing for the most disadvantaged people in the union, which in reality affects around 34 million people. With a closer look at what has to happen to achieve a climate neutral building stock in Europe by 2050, it becomes evident that it is not only about increasing the renovation rate. The average energy demand has to decrease by 75% in all renovated buildings.

What are the gains and from where will the funding come?
The above is without a doubt ambitious and will require significant investments in renovation projects in order to have a chance to reach the goals. However, The European Commission has made estimates which states that every €1 spent on renovation may give a return of up to €5 from various interests. The most direct being energy savings from buildings as well as property value increases, and in addition health benefits thanks to vastly improved indoor environments, increased job opportunities and an overall economic stimulus. To finance the EU Renovation Wave the European Commission has set out a multi-faceted approach to source the necessary funds amongst the EU long-term budget, the European structural and investment funds as well as the Recovery and Resilience Facility for example. The intention of the European Union is to meet the substantial costs associated with the Renovation Wave initiative with this funding together with other sources of subsidies.

Minimum energy performance standards
In order to set an order of priority in regards to which buildings to renovate, and to what level of upgrade they should be brought, the EU Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) have been developed. The standard categorises a country’s building stock into different classes, ranging from the worst performing buildings, being rated a G, to the best performing ones, rated an A. The buildings rated a G corresponds to the 15% worst performing buildings in each country. These are to begin with and should be renovated to level F by 2027, and to level E by 2030.

Since more than half of the buildings’ energy consumption comes from the systems and solutions connected to a building’s ventilation, heating and cooling (HVAC), the installation, modernisation and upgrade of these will be of significant interest in order to reach the overall goal of 75% energy reduction.

How to do it?
So, when the renovation project begins, the focus is to decrease the energy consumption drastically and ventilation, heating and cooling will most certainly be on the list for vast improvements. The good thing is that the HVAC industry is well suited to take on the task, there are several means to substantially reduce the energy consumption for HVAC in an older building.

If we were to point out a set of highly effective ways to reduce the energy consumption we would start with ventilation. Modern air handling units will not only supply new air to buildings and notably improve the indoor air quality, modern units will also make use of the energy inside the building by the means of highly efficient heat recovery systems. The potential energy savings are great.

In addition, a system for variable air volumes or demand controlled ventilation can continuously interact with the air-handling unit and make sure that only the actual needed amount of air is supplied to the different spaces inside a building. The indoor climate can be monitored by sensors which can determine the definite demands inside the building by measuring temperature and air quality. With this in place, adjustments can be made to ventilate, heat and cool only as much as needed when the building is occupied, and to do as little as possible of that, only enough to meet legal requirements, when the building is empty.

All in all, the above enables a comfortable indoor climate as well as an energy efficient operation of the HVAC solution. Learn more about demand controlled ventilation in our guide.

To sum up
The industry of ventilation, heating and cooling – our industry – has a monumental task to tackle. We are the ones who should enable vast energy savings, needed for climate neutrality by 2050, and also ensure a good indoor climate for people to be productive and thrive. But as said before, we are up for the job and we know that heat recovery and demand controlled ventilation will be decisive. To learn more about the 70% energy save made at Katedralskolan in Linköping, Sweden, see our full reference case here.