European Parliament's building energy efficiency target unfeasible

Old blocks of flats in Tallinn.
Old blocks of flats in Tallinn. Source: Jenny Va / ERR

The plan to renovate all residential buildings to at least category D energy efficiency by 2033, recently passed in the European Parliament, is too much for Estonia both in terms of cost and time frame, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications admits. Estonia hopes that the European Commission's more relaxed plan will prevail.

The European Parliament's position goes beyond the Commission's bill in seeking at minimum a D energy efficiency level by 2033. This would mean boosting the energy efficiency of almost all buildings currently rated F, G or E.

"Estonia has quite a few buildings under heritage conservation, while all other residential space would have to be renovated to at least energy class D," said Andry Krass, head of the Estonian Homeowners Association.

Estonia has agreed to the Commission's target of achieving the E rating as a national average by 2033. This would require €1.4 billion most of which would have to come from the Estonian state budget. But the European Parliament's much more ambitious target is too much for Estonia.

"We deem it possible to double renovation volume by 2030, which we can realistically do. But making sure every building has an energy rating of D by 2033 would require too much additional funding compared to current plans. /.../ Very accurate calculations have not been made yet, while it is estimated to require around €2 billion, with the total renovation budget until 2050 amounting to €15 billion," said Ivo Jaanisoo, deputy secretary general in charge of construction of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

The European Parliament's plan isn't realistic also considering the capacity of the Estonian construction market.

"We have renovated around 100 buildings annually based on the current plan. The target would be 500 buildings, which would require building material manufacturers to up production five times," said Marina Vaganova, executive manager of the Association of Construction Material Producers of Estonia.

Estonia has 200,000 private residences and 26,000 apartment buildings. Of the latter, 14,000 are in need of renovation.

"The housing stock is located in major cities and regions. The situation is very good in the former, while we could say it is dismal in the latter. It is a problem for us when support hits areas where the problem is more or less solved, while it never reaches areas where things are not fine," Krass commented.

He suggested that a fourth of Estonia's current residential space is hopeless in terms of renovation, with several thousand apartment buildings likely to fall out of use over the next few decades.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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