Investment in energy efficiency of buildings has a return

All buildings built in the EU from 2030 onwards must meet the goal of zero emissions, a challenge that will be required of the entire real estate stock in 2050, according to the directive approved a few days ago by the European Parliament.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 March 2024 Sunday 11:15
8 Reads
Investment in energy efficiency of buildings has a return

All buildings built in the EU from 2030 onwards must meet the goal of zero emissions, a challenge that will be required of the entire real estate stock in 2050, according to the directive approved a few days ago by the European Parliament. Member states now have two years to transpose this standard into their legislation, which lays the foundations for the process to decarbonize buildings.

According to data from the European Commission, buildings are responsible for 36% of greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of European energy consumption. Spain, with an aging real estate stock, one of the most obsolete in Europe, with half of the homes over 40 years old, has a lot of work ahead of it. The challenge is gigantic.

Greater awareness among owners, the common objective of the agents involved and the Next Generation funds can help provide the necessary push to meet the objectives.

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings was the subject of debate at a new meeting of Diálogos La Vanguardia held in collaboration with BBVA. In the round table Mark Eaves Fernández, Director of Financing of Owner Communities of BBVA in Spain; Fernando Aranda, member of the Incasòl Climate Emergency Group; Daniel Fosas, CEO at Zenit Integral Rehabilitation; Caroli na Cicuéndez, journalist from the Communication Department of EOS energy; and Antoni Palou, lawyer at Palou Consultors.

Buildings and homes, as with appliances, are also classified according to the amount of energy they consume. The classification goes from the letter A to G, from highest to lowest efficiency. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), 81% of Spanish buildings have an energy rating between E and G. The EU requires that in 2030 all residential buildings have the E rating, as Eaves recalled, and only Three years later, in 2033, everyone must have the D, he added. “In about 10 years, a large part of the park has to be rehabilitated,” stated the BBVA representative.

The road is long, but it is worth traveling. Because the objective of decarbonizing the economy requires it, but also because “with rehabilitation, greater comfort, savings due to lower energy consumption and a revaluation of the home are achieved,” added Eaves.

Although each building is different, Fosas and Cicuéndez explained the actions that, in general terms, must be carried out to achieve greater efficiency. From the thermal envelope of the building through the insulation of the façade, passing through the roof and windows. Projects also usually incorporate improvements to thermal installations, implementing aerothermal or geothermal energy if possible, LED lighting in common areas and, as the electrification of mobility advances, the community of owners is optionally offered the installation of Charging points for electric cars, scooters and bicycles.

The investments required are usually large and that is one of the barriers for the communities of owners to take on the reform project. However, thanks to the Next Generation funds, up to 80% savings in the cost of the reform can be achieved, to which we must add tax deductions of up to 60% in personal income tax, the BBVA executive recalled. As an example, Eaves explained that a community of eight neighbors that rehabilitates the façade, the roof, the windows and the lights in common areas, which would already mean a saving of 30% of energy, thanks to European funds would enjoy a 65% subsidy and would be able to change energy efficiency from E to letter D. “If the tax savings are added, in the end this investment would be covered in three years. It pays off and it has to be done,” he emphasized.

The execution of all the actions subsidized with the Next Generation funds will have to be completed before June 30, 2026. “It is a unique opportunity, but it involves a lot of work in a short time,” Fosas stressed, after remembering that getting the message to the communities, that they understand the concept and the benefits it brings and that an agreement is reached. It is not achieved overnight. The process is speeded up when you find the president or daring neighbor who is committed to ambitious projects and who can convince the other owners. “The motivated neighbor is often the key,” Cicuéndez added. “He is the one who turns noes into yeses,” Fosas added.

For better management of subsidies, the representative of EOS energy and Incasòl demanded greater public-private collaboration. “Getting a grant is a long and complex process. It has to be facilitated and simplified as much as possible both in form and time. They would have to be given with greater agility and especially thinking about the communities of owners, who need high amounts in energy efficiency issues,” stated Aranda. At this point, she reflected on the focus of the aid. In her opinion, “more powerful subsidies” should be given to efficiency, but instead it is investments in renewables that are overvalued in the stimuli.

In addition to the neighbors, in every energy rehabilitation project there are three key actors: the rehabilitation agent, who has to know how to make it easy for the community at all times, from the first meetings to the delivery of the project; the property manager, who acts as a meeting point between neighbors and companies, and financial entities. It is difficult to undertake a project of this magnitude without the help of a financial entity, Eaves highlighted. In this sense, he explained that BBVA accompanies and helps communities of owners with specific and flexible products, financing the community for a period of up to 15 years, even with gaps of 24 months, and cancellation at zero cost when the subsidies arrive. “It is time to undertake the investment in energy efficiency. At BBVA we accompany the communities of owners by identifying their needs, he stated. Together with the administrators and rehabilitation agents, the strategic partners, our objective is to end up providing a turnkey solution to try to make what is difficult easy and that the work of the owner or the community of neighbors is the minimum essential."

Palou presented the case of an emblematic building in Tàrrega that will receive a subsidy of 1.2 million euros from Next Generation funds to improve energy efficiency. The comprehensive rehabilitation project is carried out by Eoszenit Energy, an alliance between Zenit and EOS. The building, which is more than 40 years old and of which Palou is the administrator, has 60 residents. There were long months of explanations to overcome resistance, remembers Palou, until they managed to “get the owners excited.” The young people of the farm embraced the project for sustainability; the older ones due to cost savings. He recalled that at the informative assembly to present the project, 60% of the owners were present and the remaining 20% ​​were represented, something quite unusual in this type of meeting, and that when the vote was taken, only two noes were recorded and they later agreed with it. the project. “We are very excited. We hope to finish in a year and take advantage of the great advantages of the energy rehabilitation," he assured, after highlighting that transparency, information and having the support of an entity like BBVA, which directly finances the community without endorsement from the owners, are the key to the success of the project.

For his part, Aranda highlighted that Incasòl, as a public developer and holder of an extensive heritage of affordable rental housing, has the “social responsibility” of working to achieve sustainable development objectives. It cannot help with subsidies, but it can demonstrate that there are many actions that, if a public promoter can do them, any private promoter can do. “We have to be exemplary, to be taken as a role model,” he stated. In this sense, he explained that progress is being made along three lines: efficiency, renewables and the management of this renewable energy, an area in which improvement must be made because, in his opinion, all responsibility cannot be transferred to a community of owners that does not has the specific knowledge for this task.

Incasòl participates in a European project with a pilot test of a positive energy building. That is, it produces more energy than it consumes. It is a building with 38 homes in Santa Coloma de Gramanet, which achieves a significant reduction in energy demand and incorporates renewables that are above the building's own needs. The surplus energy will be used for equipment in the area. “It is an optimization of resources. We are facing a paradigm shift in buildings. They will go from being large consumers of energy to being producers,” he assured in conclusion:

In order to advance this common good that energy rehabilitation entails and generate greater awareness among citizens, Cicuéndez called on public institutions for “powerful dissemination campaigns” on the importance of building efficiency and how they influence life. and health. “The cheapest energy is the one that is not consumed,” she highlighted in conclusion with the consensus of the rest of the speakers.