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We aim to make Europe’s building stock – the source of over 30% of EU CO2 emissions – fit for the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions future. This will require a dramatic decrease in energy consumption and moving away from fossil fuels for heating and cooling toward cleaner alternatives. Europe can play a pioneering role in industrialising the renovation of existing buildings and developing zero-carbon heating solutions, gaining know-how and driving down costs that will be needed across the globe in the coming decades.


Benjamin Elliott O5 Ritqihgs Unsplash

Key challenges

  • Implementing the EU’s 32.5% efficiency target for 2030 in the real world, so that Europe is on course to become a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050.
  • Accelerating the rate at which existing buildings are refurbished, as around 75% of the buildings standing today will still be around in 2050, and less than 3% of these are A-rated.
  • Renovation rates, which are currently at below 1%, need to triple to reach European climate objectives.


Over the last decade, Europe has made significant improvements to energy efficiency in the built environment, while also lowering energy bills for households and alleviating energy poverty. Improvements to household products are forecasted to save over €400 per household per year in avoided energy costs.

Europe was the first region to mandate that all buildings constructed from 2021 have near-zero energy demand or generate almost as much energy as they use. Most recently, EU governments have further strengthened their energy-saving goals by agreeing that by 2030, energy demand will need to be cut by 32.5% compared to 2005.

Europe is sufficiently far along the pathway to net-zero that it is time to start looking seriously at how to decarbonise residential heating. Around 80% of domestic energy demand comes from space and water heating, and Europe is well-placed to pioneer the solutions that the world will need to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check.

How we work

The ECF has started to focus keenly on the “how” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings: How can the diverse actors involved in delivering emission reductions in buildings best cooperate? How can we bring other groups along? How can we overcome bottlenecks to scaling energy demand reduction?

If we can help surpass these hurdles, we can trigger an acceleration in home renovation, which in turn will reduce costs through supply-chain optimisation, scale economies and learning-by-doing. This will involve innovative business models, and it will require an industrialised supply chain to reduce the costs and the hassle associated with renovation.

In the Netherlands, we are implementing a project to engage with local communities and share best practices as the country works toward its natural gas phase-out. In Poland, we are approaching the issue from the perspective of alleviating energy poverty as the country rolls out its €25 billion Clean Air Programme for renovations to single-family buildings.


Ting Zhang

Senior Associate, Buildings Programme

Darrelle Colleran

Associate, Buildings Programme

Sarah O’Brien

Manager, Buildings Programme

Femke De Jong

Director, Buildings Programme

Eleonora Moschini

Strategic Communications Lead, Buildings

Oliver K. Saltoft

Senior Associate, Industry & Innovation Programme