A climate-neutral building stock: Belgian buildings climate neutral by 2050 with societal support | Agoria

A climate-neutral building stock: Belgian buildings climate neutral by 2050 with societal support

Published on 05/03/20 by Charlotte van de Water
One of today's major climate challenges is the transition to a climate-neutral building park by 2050. The necessary technology to achieve this is largely available. The big challenge lies in ensuring this technology applied and that this results in an increased quality of life. To succeed it is essential that both society and the construction sector are able to realise the required renovations and building projects. Agoria therefore started in 2020 a study within the project ‘Climate Neutral Building Park’ with the aim of developing a feasible renovation strategy.

Necessary transition to a climate-neutral building stock

There are almost 5 million buildings in Belgium. Based on an evaluation of the technical condition of these buildings, information which is collected through EPC and EPB certification, we know that approximately 2-5% of these buildings meet the 2050 objective (i.e. NZEB in Brussels and Europe, BEN in Flanders and QZEN in Wallonia). The other buildings will need to be either renovated or demolished and rebuilt. The necessary technology and techniques to make these buildings climate neutral are in principle available. A large task lies in making sure that they are applied. The main obstacles here are a lack of knowledge, resources and priorities. Policies are therefore put in place to address this.

At the same time, those policies must be developed and implemented in a responsible way to ensure that the necessary construction activities are feasible for both the construction sector and society. The experts have a good idea of what needs to be done and what policy measures are available. However, there is still a major question as to how the approach can be further optimised as the transition, with a renovation rate of less than 1%, is currently not progressing fast enough. For the technology sector, this insight is important in order to be able to prepare properly for the necessary future market demand.

A climate-neutral building park: how to proceed? Watch the video!

What exactly does the European climate policy framework require?

By 2030, Europe must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. This may even be increased to 55%. Buildings, as one of the five non-ETS sectors, are responsible for 36% of emissions. Within the buildings sector, these emissions are mainly caused by the energy needed for heating and cooling those buildings. To reduce these emissions there are 3 possible options:

 1. Countering heat loss through, for example, better insulation, windows and window blinds. Ventilation also plays an important role in keeping the indoor climate of good quality. This is governed by the policy for more energy-efficient buildings. This includes the EPB and renovation policy framework.

 2. Reducing the amount of energy a (heating or cooling) appliance needs to heat a room. This is the policy for more energy-efficient construction products. This includes the Ecodesign and energy labelling

3. Ensuring that energy is generated from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels. This is the renewable energy policy. The requirements for this are laid down in the Renewable Energy Directive (RES) and the reporting requirements in the Governance Regulation.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires all buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2050. In construction terms, this is relatively short; a single house renovation quickly forms a construction project of 9 to 12 months. That's why all three options are addressed at the same time to maximize the chance of reaching the target.

Activities within the project Climate Neutral Buildings Stock

The aim of the project is to gain more insight into what is needed to achieve the 2050 objective and to ensure that this knowledge is applied. This is done, on the one hand, by carrying out study work and, on the other hand, by working on the application of that knowledge. In 2018 and 2019 the focus of the study work was on Ecodesign and energy labelling and the energy performance policy framework (EPB). For example, in 2019 Agoria worked on the development of knowledge regarding the Ecodesign and energy labelling regulations for lighting and building automation systems. An exploratory study was also carried out into the implementation of the hourly method in the EPB. This allows fluctuations in the determination of the energy performance of a building due to for example the weather to be accounted for.

In 2020 the focus of the project will be on the renovation of existing buildings. One of the major challenges here is to increase the current renovation rate from 0.8% to 3+% in a feasible way; both the construction sector and society must be able to carry out the requested construction activities. Agoria therefore started a study into the possibilities to increase the renovation rate through further optimisation of the existing policy measures. This is based on two principles: achieving a favourable renovation climate and increasing the effectiveness of policy measures by applying technical and sociological segmentation. The first results are expected in the course of 2020.

For more information about the exact activities within the project, click here (NL) or here (FR) for a full description or contact the project manager Charlotte van de Water.

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