This project has attempted to establish and assess the current situation of and potential for energy efficiency in the refurbishment of high-rise residential buildings in Europe. This has been done against the backdrop of the European Housing Ministers’ official recognition of the residential high-rise stock as a priority for sustainable refurbishment – of which energy efficiency improvement is a key part. In this regard, the project has found that there is a vast, cost-effective and untapped energy saving and CO2 mitigation potential.
In order to find and develop a way forward for the integration of energy efficiency into the refurbishment of high-rise buildings, the project has drawn together and assessed a very wide range of opportunities and barriers to better inform the recommendations for policy as well as further research. The six case studies of high-rise refurbishment illustrate some of the realities of the energy saving and CO2 mitigation potential, wider benefits, and the opportunities and barriers faced.
The recommendations that follow are based on a high level of confidence in this project’s findings. While the research carried out has stayed with the European Housing Ministers’ definition of high-rise residential buildings (i.e. as having more than four storeys) in order to be ‘in line’ with other research and with real policy development and momentum, it is important to note that all or most of the recommendations are likely to be just as applicable to large multi-family buildings with four storeys or less.
- Incorporate energy efficiency improvement into the general requirement to refurbish high-rise buildings to maximise cost-effectiveness of investment.
- Recognise that low-cost and very substantial CO2 emissions reductions can be achieved, especially in EU10 and AS3 countries.
- Recognise also that highly cost-effective and very substantial energy savings can be achieved in almost all of the high-rise stock – given the existing pattern of energy prices, this applies especially to EU15 countries.
- Facilitate and support the creation of new European funds to accelerate sustainable, energy efficient refurbishment – especially for EU10 and AS3 countries where it is most needed, and because no structural funds for housing or energy demand management exist as yet.
- Consider additionally separate energy efficient retrofit where cost-effective and where the need for general refurbishment is being/has already been met.
- Employ consistent methodologies for quantifying wider benefits of energy efficiency improvement to further strengthen case.
- Refer to body of experience and commission further research to identify most innovative forms of financing.
- Synchronise objectives of various government departments and other authorities involved in delivery of sustainable housing and energy.
- Prepare for energy market liberalisation, in particular in EU10 and AS3 countries, and ensure that individual metering and billing replaces the existing energy consumption infrastructure.
- Close gaps in building or estate level condominium legislation/collective decision-making rules.
- Address cooling demand as well, in particular, but not exclusively in warm climate countries.
- Make holistic resident/stakeholder involvement and advice provision a requirement for funding support.
- Link all actions to implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings and the Energy End-use Efficiency and Energy Services Directives.
Priorities for further research
- Need to research and explore potential synergies between the Energy Performance of Buildings and the Energy End-use Efficiency and Energy Services Directives, especially with respect to high-rise and large multi-family buildings.
- To survey the extent to which the high-rise and large multi-family stock is over- or under-heated and where – in order to quantify the amount of energy ‘take-back’ and inform the development of proportionate energy advice provision.
- Need for collection and analysis of data on potential for and investment in reducing cooling demand in high-rise residential and large multi-family buildings to quantify cost-effectiveness and develop cooling reduction/avoidance strategies.
- Similarly, need for collection and analysis of data on potential for and investment in high-rise and large multi-family building-integrated renewable energy technologies, to quantify cost-effectiveness and complement energy demand reduction and energy efficiency improvement.
- Special need for modelling and consumer surveys of impact of new types of financial incentive for high-rise and large multi-family building refurbishment, such as financial incentives linked to the level of certification achieved under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.