Drive 0 at COP25 – EU Energy Day

At COP25 – EU Energy Day, Miriam Navarro talked about Drive 0 and how we can include circular economy the building renovation.  Let’s take a look at what she talked about: 

From your experience on the ground, which are currently the 1-2 main barriers to creating the right local conditions for buildings’ decarbonisation? Among others (technical, financial barriers), I would highlight demand (social) barriers. Deep renovation has often been approached as a technological challenge; however, social and financial barriers need specific attention to unlock the renovation market. – Understand the needs and expectations from building owners for renovation is key. For instance: accessibility, aesthetics/appearance or comfort are much more important for homeowners than energy efficiency. We should be able to sell energy renovation in a way that is attractive for building owners. This is particularly key in those areas where climatic conditions make that energy investments require a long payback period. Therefore, other co-benefits need to be emphasized. 

Drive 0 COP25

What is needed to successfully upscale existing technological solutions supporting the renovation process?

A clear understanding of the specificities of the context. Local conditions influence the supply side. – Clear involvement of key actors with the necessary knowledge, skills and motivation to support the homeowner. For instance: the role of property administrators in horizontal properties in Spain and other countries is key to unlock the renovation market. – Adapt the regulatory instruments to allow a step-wise renovation process. – Link these technological solutions with local drivers. – More awareness on best practice renovation projects and benefits associated. Technological solutions are there, but people are still reluctance to undertake renovation since benefits are not enough clear for them. 

How can we better include circular economy aspects in the building renovation processes? (If time allows)

The ReSOLVE framework (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) Circular principles for circular economy: regenerate, share, optimise, loop, virtualise and exchange is also applicable to the built environment sector: using alternative sustainable and low impact materials, upcyclable materials, design for disassembly, BIM to monitor performance and facilitate repair, rainwater harvesting, efficient use or resources, natural lighting and ventilation solutions, etc. – Indeed, renovation itself is one of the principles of the circular economy in the built environment, particularly in the existing building stock. Extending the lifetime of buildings though maintenance, renovation and adaptation/transformation has to be always placed before demolition. However, is it always renovation the most environmentally friendly option? If we maintain the buildings as they are, we don’t use more materials, what seems to be more circular. But, what about energy consumption? If we manage to design renovations that save more energy during the operation phase than the one embedded in the materials and technologies we use in the renovation, renovation becomes more circular than doing nothing. But, how long does the operation phase last? To decide which renovation is more circular is not a banal decision, and here is when DRIVE0 project steps in. The necessity of tools, indicators, initiatives to generate validated knowledge and support professionals in the decision process is key. 

In a nutshell, what do you expect from the European Union in terms of supporting the right conditions on the ground for deep renovation of the building stock?

Improving: – Information and advice. – Energy and CO2 taxes. – Financial incentives – Access to capital – More flexibility in the regulatory framework for the renovation of existing buildings.