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Where is Fire Safety in EU Member States Long Term Renovation Strategies?

Fire Safe Europe

29 Apr 2021

As per the 2018 Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), EU Member States are requested to submit to the European Commission their national Long Term Renovation Strategies (LTRS) to increase the energy efficiency and decarbonisation of their building stock by 2050.

The 27 EU countries had until 10 March 2021 to submit their LTRS. At the beginning of April 2021, 22 Member States had done so, and 13 LTRS had been translated into English.

In its preliminary analysis, the European Commission analyses these 13 LTRS and highlights that:

  • Mandatory minimum energy performance standards are envisioned in Denmark, the Netherlands and France;

  • The Energy Performance Certificate system will be reinforced in Denmark, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia and Greece;

  • Efforts are made to bring the expertise on energy efficiency closer to EU citizens with the development of energy advisory services and one-stop shops, for instance in the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechia, Austria and France;

  • The challenges linked to skills and education are addressed by most LTRS through the development of training programmes and knowledge centres;

  • Some LTRS pay particular attention to energy poverty, such as Spain’s, whose Bono social and the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme provides free energy efficiency upgrades to homes where the householder receives a social welfare payment;

  • Specific measures are put in place in countries like Belgium, Denmark or the Netherlands to tackle worst performing buildings, with, for instance, dedicated financial investment or free home energy scans;

  • Several Member States have established targets for public buildings, in Croatia, for instance, 75% of public procurement procedures must be implemented using green public procurement criteria by 2030;

  • The surge of energy-efficient renovations will be capitalised on in some countries to increase the digitalisation of the building stock through the development of the Building Renovation Passport, such as it has been done in Finland or France.

The European Commission’s strategic analysis also notes that the Communication on the Renovation Wave stressed the importance of building fire safety. It is also worth mentioning that Article 2a paragraph 7 and Article 7 paragraph 5 of the 2018 Revision of the EPBD encouraged Member States to address fire safety in their long-term renovation strategy as well as in relation to major renovations. Out of the 13 LTRS translated so far, eight mention fire safety, in particular:

  • Austria, which focuses on the benefit of renovation in terms of fire safety improvements of the existing building and develops on schools refurbishment projects with specific fire protection measures, for instance, in Vienna.

  • Estonia states that during renovations, attention must be paid to the building’s fire safety and the work required considered.

  • Germany underlines the importance of craftsperson training.

  • France emphasises, in general terms, a holistic approach to energy renovation accounting for fire safety, accessibility, health protection and acoustic. However, it would have been beneficial to develop further on the concrete steps taken to implement such an approach.

The LTRS are an opportunity for Member States to show they took into consideration the fire safety provision of the 2018 EPBD. A few Member-States are starting to take this road, which is encouraging, yet it remains insufficient considering the dramatic fire incidents we have witnessed in the past years.

Improving buildings’ energy performance often involves the introduction of a growing share of renewables and innovative energy-efficient solutions, which in turn increase the inherent fire risk. Hence, we must constantly pay attention to new fire risks and ensure that the green solutions used to increase energy efficiency do not weaken a building’s fire resilience.

These LTRS would have been a mean for all EU Member States to demonstrate they take a proactive approach to fire risks and their consequences by integrating this risk in their LTRS policy planning. We hope that the remaining LTRS to be submitted by spring 2021 will follow the lead of Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, and Latvia.

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