Meeting the European Commission’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by at least 55% by 2030 will require renovating buildings at previously unheard of rates and depth. This goal opens up vast opportunities for citizens, national economies and progress towards climate goals, but also issues a formidable challenge. To date, most Member States have seen sluggish building renovation rates at best. To propel its ‘renovation wave’ forward, the Commission has committed to propose minimum energy performance standards this year, as part of the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

Minimum energy performance standards are regulated standards that require targeted buildings to meet a minimum energy efficiency level at a date or trigger point in the future. Embedded in a suite of complementary policies and safeguards, MEPS can drive strong renovation rates and focus efforts on the worst-performing buildings first, which can alleviate energy poverty and improve housing conditions for many Europeans. Increasing renovations offers extensive benefits such as job creation, building the supply chain and improving building user comfort and wellbeing. European regulators can tap into the wealth of existing models and designs of MEPS across the world to inform their own designs.

Flexibility and responsiveness to local conditions are pivotal to the success of this policy tool. Most important, however, is that policymakers design MEPS in line with Europe’s objective of climate neutrality by 2050 and ensure the energy transition is fair. An ambitious but flexible EU framework of minimum energy performance standards will enable Member States to introduce tailored measures that make a significant contribution to social, economic and climate goals.