Flanders introduced a norm demanding the renovation of buildings at the point of transfer. This was an important breakthrough in principle. However, the design of the norm lacked ambition, and a wider phaseout of fossil heating is missing – along with dedicated support measures for vulnerable households.
– Flanders introduced a norm demanding the renovation of buildings at the point of sale/transfer.
– The introduction of this framework was very important, since it utilises key moments to instigate deep renovation. Despite of this, the effects of the renovation obligation are negligible due the low energy performance requirements.
– The rule’s ambition needs to be increased, and it needs to be combined with a full phaseout of fossil heating technologies, along with dedicated support measures (social housing, financial support): we should incorporate this in the NECP revision.
Flemish households have the largest greenhouse gas emissions in the EU after Luxembourg. Our building stock is old and in poor condition. We also score poorly in terms of energy poverty, with vulnerable groups in particular often living in housing of substandard (energy) quality.
Flanders therefore needs to amp up their renovation efforts, especially in comparison to other EU countries, to renovate and decarbonize its building stock.
The Flemish buildings policy fell woefully short of this objective, and the existing NECP failed to bring much in terms of additional policies.
It was therefore an important step that Flanders introduced a renovation obligation in 2021. When a house is sold/transferred, it must then be renovated to EPC (energy performance standard) label D, 300-400kWh/m²/year (within 5 years). This was an important break from the non-policy of the past.
However, although the norm represented a breakthrough in principle, in practice its design remained far too weak.
An EPC label D in Flanders is comparable to the worst EPC label in many other countries (Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, among others). The renovation obligation should therefore be raised to EPC label ‘A’ max. 100 kWh/m²/year, which is also the end goal for the Flemish building stock according to the Flemish Longterm Renovation Strategy. Furthermore, a switch to fossil free heating should be incorperated. Moreover, this instrument should go hand in hand with adapted support policy that offers support for vulnerable households such as tailored subsidies and sustainable social housing.