Building renovation for recovery and climate protection – Assessing national recovery plans from an energy efficiency perspective


The Renovate Europe Campaign (REC) has carried out a major study on energy renovation plans for buildings, Renovate2Recover.

The aim of the study was to assess Member States’ National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) in terms of the extent to which they provide the necessary framework to boost building renovation by setting objectives, milestones, regulatory, financing and institutional conditions. Based on the assessment of the amounts of funding and incentives for building renovation foreseen in the National Recovery Plans, the study shows that ambition at EU level remains low and that national plans do not extend beyond 2026. At a time when high energy prices are making energy efficiency improvements more urgent than ever, the majority of national plans are a missed opportunity to significantly reduce energy demand, the study concludes.

The Renovate Europe Campaign (REC) celebrated its 10th anniversary with an online event on 13 October, the same day as the ‘Renovate Europe Day‘ (ReDay). ReDay has been raising awareness of the importance and benefits of building renovation among European and national decision-makers for years. On this day, the Renovate2Recover study was published, which examined the building-related elements of the national reform programmes of 18 Member States. The study found that the huge sums available under the Restoration and Resilience Instrument are not being fully and properly used. The study examined Member States’ plans to achieve longer-term targets for more and deeper building renovation.

The European Green Deal strategy on energy performance in buildings, the ‘Renovation Wave’, set a target of 35 million energy-efficient renovations by 2030, a significant proportion of which would need to be deep renovations to meet the energy efficiency targets set for that date. Although the recovery plans in their current form are not capable of delivering a breakthrough in building renovation, Member States still have the opportunity to make corrections at the implementation stage. The study therefore makes nine recommendations that would enable Member States to implement refurbishment plans that achieve a step change in scale and meet the targets of the renovation wave.

In addition to the comparative study, each country is accompanied by a separate annex which examines in more detail the measures taken in each Member State’s National Reform Programmes and their evaluation. Where possible, the funding allocation for each programme is also included. The study and national annexes can be downloaded here.

The study was prepared in close cooperation with the Renovate Europe Campaign’s national partners and campaign office, and the evaluation was commissioned by the REC and developed by consultant E3G, drawing on the experience gained from its work with the Green Recovery Tracker. On the domestic side, the Hungarian Energy Efficiency Institute provided input for the evaluation of the NRPs.

Key findings of the study ‘Renovating for Recover’ – #Renovate2Recover

In order to encourage a green transition, Member States are mandated to allocate at least 37% of their recovery plans to climate change measures. One element of this, highlighted by the European Commission, is energy renovation of buildings. The study finds that on average, the 18 Member States surveyed plan to spend only 8% of their budget on energy renovation. In addition, in most cases, they expect energy savings of only 30%, which is the minimum required by EU guidelines. Deep renovation or phased deep renovation would be needed to meet the 2030 targets, without which the 2050 climate targets will be seriously compromised.

The study not only examines the role of Member States, but also highlights the importance of establishing an ambitious EU-level regulatory framework to complement and stimulate the actions taken by the NRPs in the Member States. In this respect, the outcome of the “Fit for 55” legislative proposals, all of which would enter into force under the financing of the NRPs, will be crucial. For example, the introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for buildings under the EPBD would send a strong signal to the whole renovation value chain, from institutional investors to building users.

The analysis covers 18 out of 27 Member States and finds that the amount they plan to invest in energy efficiency renovation is €39.9 billion, or 8.4% of the total funding envelope. The study shows that Member States plan to invest a very different proportion of the available funds in building renovation, ranging from just over 3% in Austria to over 16% in Belgium. There are also significant differences in the amounts per capita across the EU, with Greece planning to spend €384 per capita on energy renovation and Austria only €11. The proposed investments in energy renovation are concentrated in residential buildings, where the Member States surveyed are spending more than €23 billion (58% of total investments), with public buildings being the second largest target for investment, at nearly €13 billion (34%).

Domestic aspects of the study

Hungary is among the worse performers in the assessment of the energy performance of buildings in the 18 Member States’ recovery plans. Hungary scores the lowest on four out of five qualitative, composite assessment criteria. Hungary’s Recovery and Adaptation Plan (RAP) allocates between 4% and 11% of available resources to the energy renovation of buildings. The calculation is not accurate because the HET does not include a specific chapter on energy efficiency or building renovation, despite the fact that large-scale building renovation could be one of the most appropriate means of recovery and emission reduction. The HET foresees infrastructure improvements for a number of components, i.e. areas to be developed (e.g. education or health buildings), but does not include specific energy efficiency targets and does not specify the proportion of aid that will be directed towards building renovation, including complex energy renovation that will result in real energy savings. The plan does not provide for a framework for scaling up building renovation, the elements of which could be combined to ensure that renovation takes place along the whole value chain.

To promote energy efficiency renovation in buildings, the study makes the following recommendations for Hungary:

  • Setting more ambitious and measurable building renovation targets and milestones,
  • setting specific targets for deep renovation to reduce energy use and emissions in buildings
  • linking energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the heating sector by giving priority to building renovations that reduce heating demand, implementing ‘Energy Efficiency First’ and ensuring that subsidies are used efficiently
  • large-scale building renovation projects leading to real energy savings require an increase in the number of energy and construction professionals, their training and education, and the development of a support framework to reduce information and user barriers to renovation (technical assistance).


Renovate2Recover – Full Study – download

Renovate2Recover – HUNGARY country profile sheet – download

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