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10 November 2021 Comments (0) Architecture, Environment, Real Estate, Technology

Renovation: some European models

Our editorial series devoted to renovation, a subject central to the concerns of the entire real estate sector, be it developers, investors, clients or public authorities, continues. After setting the scene, we offer you a first overview of the different practices in force in Europe in terms of renovation and rehabilitation. 

Renovation © Barthelemy de Mazenod

Denmark is one of the first European countries to have defined and incorporated into its legislation the concept of NZEB building (Nearly Zero Energy Building). These minimum requirements have applied to the private residential market since 2021 (and to public buildings since 2019). 

The Netherlands: Among the support measures is the Meer Met Minder (More with Less) programme to improve the energy efficiency of 300,000 buildings. But also green funds, low-rate loans calculated based on potential post-work energy performance. The Netherlands also offers a green tax to individuals wishing to carry out renovation work with reduced VAT. 

In Poland, the trend is different. Sector figures indicate a clear preference for demolition/reconstruction, with rare exceptions (listed buildings). As the town planning and technical regulations are more restrictive in the case of a renovation, it is still little practised. Likewise, it is pretty rare to change the use of a building: housing will remain housing, as demand is relatively high in Poland and the market is clearly on the rise.

Belgium: the three regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels) are increasing the facilities granted to far-stretching energy renovations: reduction in gift tax and registration rights, property tax, various premiums for converting buildings into housing… In addition, all new buildings must henceforth comply with the Quasi Zero Energy Building standards ( QZEN). Finally, we will note this critical decision by the two regional governments: in Flanders, from 2040, no more virgin land can be used for new construction . In Wallonia, it will be for 2050. A major environmental issue, with a constantly increasing Belgian population.  

In Luxembourg, this idea of limiting building surfaces is still a matter of debate, as DivercityMag detailed in its article of August 13. Renovations benefit from various bonuses, pre-financing of works, climate loans… 

Renovation © Viktor Forgacs

Germany: since 2006, a public bank has been offering a wide range of renovation aid, conditional on downstream control, aid weighted according to the degree of energy performance and compliance with legal requirements. These measures are accessible to individuals and businesses. As a result, CO2 emissions from the residential sector have been declining since 2018. 

Today, best practices in the sustainable renovation of existing buildings still emanate mainly from the Member States. But things are changing: in October 2020, the European Commission presented its energy recovery plan, the three priorities of which are: decarbonising heating and cooling systems, combatting energy poverty and tackling the problem of less efficient buildings, and, finally, renovating public buildings such as schools, hospitals and administrative buildings. 

Tour of Europe to follow in article #3

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