Renovation challenges in focus
The four-day program featured focused discussions on challenges and opportunities in the renovation sector, captivating various stakeholders, especially European policymakers. Indeed, the importance of renovation has evolved into a fundamental catalyst for transformation, with buildings contributing significantly to around 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 36% of related greenhouse gas emissions.
Consequently, buildings hold the position of the primary energy consumer in Europe. The energy consumption by citizens – especially in heating, cooling, and domestic hot water – constitutes a staggering 80% of overall energy use. With these issues firmly embedded in our research priorities, VITO/EnergyVille could not miss out on the Belgian Renovation Week.
Key issues on the table
Maarten De Groote, our VITO/EnergyVille expert in Smart Energy & Built Environment, assumed a key role in moderating and participating in sessions organized by VEKA and Wallonie Service Public. These sessions delved into innovative solutions and policy instruments to drive the renovation movement forward.
A particularly noteworthy session, titled “Energizing the Renovation Challenge: EPC as Guiding Policy Instrument,” focused on the integration of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) as a policy instrument within renovation strategies. Insights and experiences from Flanders, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Ireland were thoroughly examined.
VITO/EnergyVille also played a role in organizing another session, titled “Innovating Renovations: Pioneering the Future of Built Environment Transformation.” This session delved into a range of innovative solutions to accelerate the renovation process, providing valuable insights into effectively addressing the diverse challenges associated with renovation.
During the session titled “Energy Renovation at a District Scale: What Opportunities, What Perspectives?”, De Groote took on the role of expert panelist this time. In this capacity, he actively engaged in discussions on the challenges and opportunities of renovation at the district scale.
Positive Energy Neighborhoods and heat pumps
EnergyVille/VITO’s commitment to accelerating the renovation pace was further exemplified through our work in Positive Energy Neighborhoods (PENs). Several ongoing demonstration projects, including oPEN Lab in the city of Genk, showcase our commitment to sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.
Additionally, the Belgian Renovation Week spotlighted our dedication to addressing the decarbonization of heating and the role of heat pumps. Our research team’s recent publication, “Winter is Coming. Where are the Heat Pumps?” was recognized as a significant contribution to the discourse on sustainable heating solutions.
Policymaking for a greener tomorrow
Policymakers undoubtedly play a curial role in shaping regulations to accelerate the renovation wave. The deliberate timing of the event within the first month of the presidency thus reflects a strategic effort to engage European policymakers actively.
In this context, Minister Van der Straeten affirmed the presidency’s steadfast commitment to establishing a facilitative framework to achieve important climate and energy targets. These commitments encompass several key priorities, such as doubling the current renovation rate, expanding grids for increased energy security, delivering offshore renewable energy, and supporting research and innovation in medical radio isotopes.
In line with these objectives, we are grateful for the platform provided at the Belgian Renovation Week to promote sustainable solutions. Our involvement in discussions, organisation of sessions, and presentation of innovative projects not only align with the broader European agenda for a greener and more energy-efficient future, but also significantly contribute to it.