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ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

Build Better Lives is an initiative that seeks to unite social, housing, climate and youth movements together to promote the need for more energy efficient buildings that can benefit millions of people’s lives throughout Europe.

Better buildings build better lives through creating safer, healthier and more comfortable environments where many of us work, play and live. More energy efficient buildings reduces our energy consumption, which lowers our energy bills along with greenhouse gas emissions. This all starts with policy.

Governments need to implement EU and national legislations around building renovation and heating decarbonisation in a manner that is inclusive and will deliver benefits for all. The revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a crucial starting point that can steer EU member states towards developing more supportive frameworks for holistic building renovations that combine insulating our buildings and installing renewable heating solutions.

Better Homes For Better Futures

Avaaz, a signatory of the Build Better Lives Campaign, have started a petition asking policymakers for inclusive and ambitious building policies that will support the acceleration of deep and holistic energy renovation of Europe’s buildings. Make sure to play your part by clicking the link below and signing the petition to help Build Better Lives.

What is the

EPBD

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The EPBD was put into effect in 2002 to set requirements for Member States to improve the energy performance of buildings with the aim to reduce the EU’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, progress on the Directive has been slow.

Our buildings have been neglected and households across Europe are now paying the price for the complacency shown by EU and national policymakers.

A more ambitious, socially and environmentally sound EU Buildings Directive has the potential to lift millions of homes out of energy poverty while taking us a step further in the fight against the climate crisis. The directive can mark the end of dangerous fossil fuel-based installations being installed in our homes and buildings. Instead, through deep renovations and the installation of renewable energy and heating systems, Europe’s buildings can set the foundation for an inclusive, fair and just energy transition.

A strong and clear regulatory framework needs to be implemented with equally strong social safeguards. The most vulnerable households must be made a priority in the deep renovation wave. By setting a minimum energy performance standard within the residential sectors, the worst-performing buildings can be brought up to a more acceptable energy rating. A higher energy rating can lead to a reduction in energy costs, energy consumption and energy poverty, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The ambition level of the EPBD is currently being negotiated between the EU Commission, EU Parliament & EU Council. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push policy makers to support a strong legislative framework that prioritises improving the energy performance of the leakiest buildings and encompasses financial support, technical aid and strong social protection. Building better buildings today can build better lives for tomorrow.

Open Statement

BETTER BUILDINGS TODAY
FOR BETTER LIVES TOMORROW

We – Europe’s civil society, social, health and environmental NGOs, local authorities, trade unions and youth movements call on policy makers to ensure Europe’s buildings provide the foundation for an inclusive, fair and just energy transition that puts people at the core. Buildings are responsible for up to 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption and the majority of our buildings (75%) are deemed inefficient, which means that most of the people in the EU live in unfit housing. Yet, for decades, there has been close to no effort towards inclusive and ambitious building policies that would support the energy renovation of Europe’s buildings. This political inaction demonstrated by EU and national policymakers has impacted households across Europe who are now feeling the full brunt of the fossil fuels crisis. 

The ‘trilemma’ of rising energy costs, a cost of living crisis and a climate emergency have arrived at our front doors, with millions of households having to choose between eating or heating. Making our homes and buildings energy efficient and renewable-based is the answer to these issues as it can help reduce our dependence on dangerous, expensive and volatile fossil fuels, help shield people from energy poverty, and improve air quality while also combatting the climate crisis. This starts with a strong EU policy framework, along with investments and resources that can be directed towards activating the relevant actors on the ground who can make the transition in our buildings a reality. Creating more energy efficient homes saves us energy and money, protecting the right to a comfortable and healthy living environment for all. 

This starts with a strong EU policy framework, along with investments and resources that can be directed towards activating the relevant actors on the ground who can make the transition in our buildings a reality. Creating more energy efficient homes saves us energy and money, protecting the right to a comfortable and healthy living environment for all.

In order to deliver a socially and environmentally sound Buildings Directive, we believe that:

 

Maximising the energy performance potential of our homes and buildings through a ‘Holistic Deep Renovation Wave’ is one major solution to address the current energy prices crisis.

As we are urged to reduce demand for energy and stop using fossil fuels as quickly as possible, combining insulation works with the installation of renewable heating and cooling systems will deliver high energy savings and greater emission reductions, while integrating buildings into the energy system, helping us get the most potential out of investments.

A strong and clear regulatory framework needs to be implemented with equally strong social safeguards.

Improving the energy performance levels of residential buildings is crucial to deliver a just and inclusive transition in our buildings. Considering that the housing sector is very diverse, social safeguards need to be designed at national and local levels together with social facilitation measures. These must protect tenants and homeowners and secure housing accessibility to all residents, and take into account a mix of different dwelling types when designing renovation programmes.

Adequate and sufficient funding should be ringfenced to vulnerable households to prioritise the renovation of the worst performing homes of low-income households.

Ensuring the allocation of tailored accessible and affordable funding means taking into account not only economic but also racial, age and gender equality considerations among other important dimensions when designing financial schemes for renovations. Also the typology of buildings’ tenures should be taken into account as different financial instruments and/or technical assistance measures could better address both economic and non-economic barriers of more complex energy renovations of multi-apartment buildings.

Activating and supporting national and local actors on the ground through adequate EU building policies can enable a multitude of stakeholders to prepare for the challenges ahead.

With a clear Paris-Agreement-Compatible roadmap, supporting and enforcement measures, governments, regional and local authorities will be enabled (and required) to prepare the needed energy infrastructure to save energy and tap into local renewable heating potentials. Delivering highly energy efficient homes, phasing out fossil fuel-based heating systems and boosting green jobs requires cooperation with anti-poverty organisations (social service providers, NGOs and local health practitioners), energy communities,  trade unions, industries and financial institutions.

A long-term perspective can support both public and private actors in designing the necessary enablers (public and private financing and technical assistance), improving working conditions and providing training schemes to upskill workers. This will ensure the creation of sufficient direct jobs and that there is a sufficient supply of skilled workforce, with decent working conditions and strong social protections, to decarbonise our buildings in the most inclusive and environmentally-friendly way.

Now more than ever, decision-makers must address skyrocketing energy bills, heating and cooling challenges and the looming climate crisis. We need a legislative framework that prioritises the leakiest buildings and encompasses financial support, technical aid and strong social protection; because a socially just and ambitious Buildings Directive, means delivering better buildings for better lives tomorrow.

Available to download as a PDF in EnglishSpanish and French.


NEWS & UPDATES

Opinion peice on improving the energy performance of Spanish Buildings

OPINION: Transforming our buildings today will make better lives tomorrow

Despite millions of people living in unfit housing, for decades, there has been close to no effort towards developing and implementing inclusive and ambitious EU building policies that could support the energy renovation of Spain’s inefficient buildings. In addressing these issues, the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a crucial starting point.

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Letter to German Government to building renovations

German associations call on their Government to improve building’s renovation rates

On the 19th July, an alliance of 15 industry, consumer, environmental and climate protection associations signed onto a joint letter sent to the German government expressing their concerns over the about the current slump in building renovation rates within Germany. The letter warns that without reducing energy consumption within our buildings, a socially acceptable and environmental friendly energy transition would be impossible.

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EPBD action at Valladolid

Joint call for the Spanish Council Presidency to deliver an ambitious EU Building’s Directive

On the 11th July, 2023, ahead of the first informal European Council to be hosted under the new EU Spanish Presidency in Valladolid, Spain, civil society organisations, social and environmental NGOs, trade unions and academia across Spain signed onto a joint statement demanding the urgent and ambitious approval of the new European Directive on the Energy Efficiency of Buildings (EPBD).

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FAST FACTS

ABOUT BUILDINGS

Buildings are responsible for up to 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption and 36% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2023, 41 million EU citizens (9.3% of the population) couldn't afford proper heating due to a cost of living crisis and soaring energy costs. This has increased energy poverty.

The majority of our buildings (75%) are deemed inefficient, which means that most of the people in the EU live in unfit housing.

85-95% of buildings in the EU are expected to still be standing in 2050.

Heating for residential buildings takes up to 80% of total energy consumption and this is mostly based on fossil fuels and non-renewable electricity.

The Benefits of

sustainable buildings

Reducing energy costs for households across Europe

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the looming climate crisis

Lifting millions of homes out of energy poverty

Creating a safer and healthier environments within our homes and cities