EU buildings directive in Italy: Wrestling with cultural value

(EurActiv, 3 May 2023) Tackling buildings emissions has Brussels pushing for higher renovation rates, a measure deeply unpopular with Italians who fear their cultural heritage is endangered.

Buildings are one of the EU’s biggest CO2 emitters, amounting to about one-third of the annual total. To address this, the EU institutions have long been pushing for renovations to reduce the structures’ energy consumption – culminating in the revamp of the buildings directive (EPBD). In Italy, the renovation boosting law has proven deeply unpopular. 

That is because the main mechanism – the “minimum energy performance standards” – targets the worst-performing buildings of any country and requires an improvement of their energy performance. In Italy, where many buildings are both old and owned by their inhabitants, this has not sparked joy.

“We have a very large stock of residential buildings built after the Second World War and in the second part of the 20th century. That’s a huge amount of low-performing buildings that you have to focus on,” says Marco Caffi, chief of operations at the Italian Green Buildings Council.

The Italian National Institute of Statistics estimates that there are approximately 34 million homes. According to data from the institute, the average building was built in 1967, long before more energy-efficient buildings became the standard in new construction in the 1990s.

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EurActiv, 3 May 2023: EU buildings directive in Italy: Wrestling with cultural value