Brussels, 24 June 2019
Centre Albert Borschette, room 0.D (ground floor)
Rue Froissart 36

Part II. Building renovation passport

The afternoon session, focusing on the “optional building renovation passport”, was attended by 48 stakeholders from the construction sector (associations of architects, engineers, product suppliers, and building associations, etc.), public authorities (ministries, energy agencies, certification bodies, etc.), real estate market, property and consumer associations, research & academia, think tanks and NGOs.


Opening of the meeting - by Sylvain Robert, European Commission, DG ENERGY

The meeting was opened by Mr. Robert, policy officer at DG ENER, assigned on behalf of the European Commission with the supervision of the feasibility study.

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Introducing the policy context - by Nora Bednarski, European Commission, DG ENERGY

Ms. Bednarski reminded the audience of the EU targets set for energy efficiency and renewable energy, while introducing the overall policy context, including eight legislative proposals adopted in the context of the Clean energy for all Europeans package.

Ms. Bednarski then focused on the building sector and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) provisions for the decarbonisation of the European building stock. She highlighted the provisions on national long-term renovation strategies of Article 2a, and the requirement to include policies and actions to stimulate cost-effective deep renovation therein. She mentioned that this Article includes a reference to optional schemes for building renovation passports as an example of such policies and actions.

Ms. Bednarski announced that the European Commission has developed guidance for Member States in preparing their national transposition of the EPBD, recently published as Commission Recommendations, one on building renovation and one on building modernisation.

Ms. Bednarski was part of the team who drafted the EPBD Recommendations.

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Setting the agenda and focus for the day - by Oliver Rapf, BPIE

Mr. Rapf, leader of the part of the feasibility study that relates to the optional building renovation passport, started his presentation by posing the question “which of the existing initiatives are incentivising energy renovation?”. He explained how the consortium has identified the required criteria and indicators to answer this question and to investigate relevant market initiatives.

In total, 33 building renovation passport related schemes have been compiled and ranked following a specific procedure, of which 16 were further analysed in detail. Of all initiatives available, three countries are leading the development on the building renovation passport: Germany, with its federal renovation roadmap “individueller sanierungsfahrplan”; France, with several regional renovation roadmaps; and the Belgium Flemish Region, which have extended their EPC with a renovation roadmap and coupled it with a logbook.

This approach has further defined the agenda for the day, which included case presentations from Germany and the Flemish region of Belgium, and then a presentation of the main outcomes of the online survey to stakeholders in order to trigger discussion.

Mr. Rapf highlighted a few key findings from the study so far, among which the fact that, all schemes which are found to be successfully contributing to alleviating barriers to renovation, are in practice integrated and reinforced by other supportive elements and frameworks. All in all, the average conversion rate from the first contact to actual renovation is almost 11%.    

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The individual building renovation roadmap: Experiences in Germany - by Martin Pehnt, ifeu

Before starting his actual presentation, Mr. Pehnt explained that the German name of the scheme he is about to present, “(individueller) Sanierungsfahrplan”, actually means a train schedule, comprising of a starting point, a set destination and several intermediate points/stops towards getting to the final destination, and how this term seems more suitable to describe the actual purpose of the building renovation passport.

He then described how the idea for the development of a relevant tool was first conceived about 10 years ago, based on a need to make renovations –which in Germany were found to be done stepwise in >80% of the cases– deep and more comprehensive.

The main underlying principles of the tool are summarised by Mr. Pehnt in: long-term perspective, avoiding lock-in effects, following best possible principles, considering the individual context, being attractive and motivating. In summary, it is about developing a plan for the building, together with the home-owner.

Mr. Pehnt then gave a brief overview of the software tool, explained the procedure, and presented the measures (training and material) available to support auditors in developing the roadmap. He explained that the process takes approximately 1-2 days to complete and is based on at least 2 on-site visits.

The tool was first introduced in Baden-Württemberg in 2013 and was then, in 2014, adopted also at federal level. It is currently also referenced in the H2020 iBRoad project. An overview of further possible developments firstly includes the inclusion of wider (non-energy-related) benefits.

Existing state level evaluations on the impact of the tool are so far positive, showing it is overall perceived as a useful and understandable instrument. In many cases, users stated they were triggered to undertake additional energy renovations thanks to the roadmap.

The audits to obtain the roadmap are currently funded by BAFA and it is shown that there is an increasing number of people receiving funding who choose to go for a roadmap (about 25%).

The cost for acquiring the roadmap starts at 700 € net and becomes higher the more complex and detailed the audit gets.

Closing his presentation, Mr. Pehnt highlighted the need for surrounding policies to support the full unfolding of the potential of the roadmap, among which he mentioned: coupling to regulatory approaches, communication and campaigning, and financial measures.

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Woningpas & EPC+: Experiences in Belgium Flemish Region - by Tine Vande Casteele, VEA

Ms. Vande Casteele introduced the Flemish passport, the Woningpas & EPC+. She explained how it started small, with as main aim to minimise the administrative burdens and to give building owners basic advice on energy aspects, to gradually unfold into a fully developed personal digital passport up to 2018. The instruments developed as a collaboration among different governmental entities (Vlaams Energieagentschap, Departement Omgeving, Wonen-Vlaanderen and OVAM). The tool currently covers a broad range of data and indicators, including soil, location, permits and attestations.

The Flemish passport is an extension of the EPC scheme, provided to home-owners free of charge, and including a step-by-step plan for execution of automatically generated recommendations for renovation, with a fast insight into total cost, while showcasing the link to the long-term decarbonisation goal 2050.

Developments of the tool are gradual; in September it is planned to also include dwelling quality, and by the end of the year it will adopt a feature for granting access to future buyers and include information on premiums. Other future plans include monitoring actual use, digital safe, water and asbestos.

User experience with the tool is collected through automatic feedback, and displays a clear added value for the home-owners.

Lessons learned and recommendations shared by Ms. Vande Casteele include the advantage of working together with other authorities, the need for a user-friendly design, integration and testing, and the difficulties in balancing between private and governmental initiatives while maintaining neutrality.

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Questions/ discussion round

During the first questions and discussion session of the afternoon, a question concerned the cost of the presented building renovation passports. It was clarified that the Flemish roadmap (i.e., EPC+) is integrated into the EPC scheme and is fully financed by the regional government (with no cost for the user; estimated total cost at 200-400 € per single-family home), whereas in Germany, governmental funding covers up to 60% of the cost (up to a certain point).

An issue raised by a stakeholder concerned whether the automated advice generated by the Flemish tool is sufficient to ensure a proper planning of the renovation works. It was explained that the recommendations are presented in order of greatest energy savings, including information on possible tips to avoid lock-ins, and a clear message to further seek expert support to make sure they get the right advice.

Another question concerned why the Flemish tool is not yet available to potential buyers. The reason is it was considered important that the home-owner gets acquainted with the instrument first, before it is being opened up to other users. Ms. Vande Casteele described it as a smooth introduction.

The perceived lack of consideration of certain health and safety issues, and more in particular for the safe removal of asbestos, as part of the renovation process, was highlighted by a couple of stakeholders. Both speakers noted that these aspects might be considered in future versions of the instruments.

A similar question was raised in relation to indoor environmental quality and the degree to which this is taken into account. In the Flemish Region, it was said there will soon be opportunity for simple check of the indoor environment quality by the building owner, as a means to create awareness. Recommendations for ventilation are considered but not taken up in the software as yet. In Germany, indoor air quality (which is one part of indoor environmental quality) is one of the topics to be adopted next under wider benefits.

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Interactive voting and discussion round – by Mariangiola Fabbri, BPIE

Ms. Fabbri started her presentation by setting the context of the feasibility study part concerning the building renovation passport and introducing the relevant online survey. She summarised the findings of the survey into the overall impression that there is not much first-hand experience available on specific tools. She then opened the voting session and discussion.

On Question 1, about what the building renovation passport is, 66% of participants defined it as a tool that provides a customised renovation roadmap, including, e.g., energy savings, comfort, information on how to implement step-by-step renovation and avoid mistakes.

On Question 2, about the type of information that it can provide, 31% answered renovation roadmap, and another 55% renovation roadmap plus additional information.

Question 3 enquired about the building typologies for which the passport is considered most useful. Here, 61% of all votes went to all types of buildings. 

Barriers to renovation, showing a clear effect, among others, on the depth of renovation, the renovation cost and thus the decarbonisation of the building stock, were then discussed, following the online survey results. Greatest barriers were considered to be: cost and lack of financial support, limited understanding, and lack of trust to installers.

Investments in renovation are considered to increase through skills improvement, guidance, streamlining of procedures and financial support.

Question 4 enquired whether participants consider the building renovation passport a viable option to achieve deep renovation. Eighty two percent (82%) of participants voted Yes. However, one stakeholder pointed to the need to integrate the passport in the context of other policy packages for it to become useful. Yet another stakeholder mentioned the need to maintain it stepwise. Finally, one stakeholder mentioned he supports step-by-step approach and that the industry (heating in this case) supports stronger labelling of installed appliances.

Question 5 was about whether the building renovation passport can support transition of the building stock. Seventy seven percent (77%) of participants voted Yes.

On the question whether the building renovation passport should be an expansion of the EPC (Question 6), close to 20% of participants replied No, while 35,5% voted Yes, and another 39% replied it depends on the quality of the existing EPC scheme. One argument against coupling the building renovation passport with the EPC, is that the burden might increase for the home-owners. However, experiences show it is possible to have both with no or limited additional burden. It seems even possible for one to increase the effectiveness of the other, if effectively designed. For example, procedures for training and expertise can enhance quality of the tool and its recommendations. One stakeholder proposed the possibility to get exemption of the EPC if one has a roadmap, or to give the EPC for free if the renovation is completed according to a building renovation passport.

Question 7, about whether the passport alone can convince homeowners to renovate, was replied 57% with No and 37% with Yes. Experience from certain countries has shown homeowners investing in energy renovation as a result of the roadmap. Participants suggested the use of trigger points to motivate renovation.

The last question (Question 8), was on the need to harmonise the approach at EU level. The answers given were diversified, with most votes (61%) going to “No, but there should be a common reference framework”, 25% of the votes stating a clear No, and 8% a clear Yes. Discussion pointed both at the political and resource load needed for harmonisation, and the need to build upon existing experiences and lessons learned. The question was further defined into “what if banks needed a harmonised approach?”. There were several concerns with a harmonised approach at EU level.

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Final discussions

The final open discussion round led to a multiple of topics being mentioned.

One stakeholder mentioned the need to embed the building renovation passport into other policy packages.

Another stakeholder enquired about the possibilities of a building renovation passport for the non-residential sector. The speakers confirmed that, though discussions may be ongoing, the difficulties lie in more complex technologies, bigger and more complex buildings, different types of ownerships and tenant/rental dynamic, and more complicated interactions with systems and installations.

The need to invest in the development and inclusion of a concrete framework for health and safety issues, and in particular in relation to relevant expert qualifications, was highlighted once more. A point of attention mentioned concerns relevant liability issues for the experts. Various options were discussed, such as the importance to link to already existing regulations as, e.g., EU regulations on asbestos. Jean-Noel Geist from the Shift project in France noted that the French building renovation passport P2E includes the possibility to involve an asbestos expert whenever the auditor considers this necessary. 

Other aspects requiring more attention included: linking the roadmap to available financial instruments; the methodology / indicators for assessing impact and success of the building renovation passport; life cycle of material use; addressing vulnerable groups of people; building quality (beyond energy) in general.

One stakeholder stressed how the building renovation passport can help to reach the 2050 goal. The instrument could help overcome the lack of sufficient knowledge of the building stock in the long-term renovation strategies. Ms. Vande Casteele said that the Flemish passport is still mainly individual but there are thoughts about how it could be further developed to support broader societal questions.

Finally, the consortium mentioned the potential role and link to a building logbook. The Flemish approach (linking the building renovation passport with a logbook) was marked as interesting by a couple of stakeholders. The need to have a logbook in connection with a material passport was also mentioned in the discussion about hazardous building materials, such as asbestos.

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Next steps – by Oliver Rapf, BPIE

Mr. Rapf briefly summarised the next steps in the feasibility study contributing to the analysis of the relevance, feasibility and possible scope of different approaches at EU level to the building renovation passport.

The 2nd stakeholder meeting, tentatively planned for 28 November 2019 in Brussels, will further discuss these approaches.  

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End of the afternoon session

The afternoon part of the feasibility study was concluded by Mr. Robert on behalf of the European Commission, thanking those who had contributed to the success of the day, and expressing his expectations from the continuation of the study.

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