Energy renovations for residential buildings: A look at four markets

Europa-Karte mit Deutschland, Italien, Litauen und Spanien

Renovating residential buildings to improve their energy efficiency benefits the climate as well as tenants and owners. The H2020 project RenOnBill has analysed market trends and legal, social and financial conditions for energy renovations in four EU countries.


The real estate sector contributes a sizable share of any given country's CO2 footprint. This means that it also offers large potential CO2 savings. In residential buildings, these savings are achieved mainly through energy efficiency renovations – which also improve the quality and thus the value of a building and can save residents a lot of money on their future energy bills. Despite their many advantages, however, these renovations generate large upfront expenses before their benefits kick in. The Horizon 2020 project RenOnBill (Residential Building Energy Renovations with On-Bill Financing) is part of an effort by the European Union to help overcome this barrier and fully exploit the CO2 saving potential of energy efficiency renovations in residential buildings. The project team has now published a report on the markets in Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Spain.

Where we are now, and where we are going

The report takes a detailed look at the current situation in the four focus countries and forecasts the development of the respective markets. It analyses the main data, drivers and challenges involved in the energy renovation of residential buildings. Each country section goes through the definition and quantification of the country building stock, the main trends in the renovation market (current growth rate and expected evolution), the regulatory framework, the potential impact of building energy renovation in the market and the financing schemes available at national level for building renovations.

Similarities and differences between the focus countries

Several common trends become apparent in the analysis: space heating universally consumes the most energy, which makes it a good target of intervention. In addition, a turning point can be identified in each country, usually brought about by new regulations; properties built after that point are noticeably more energy efficient from the start. This helps prioritise buildings of a certain age for each country.

A main difference between the countries is the total number of buildings suitable for renovation. This largely depends on the size of the building stock, being much smaller in Lithuania, which is also a smaller country. Looking at the total achievable energy savings, Germany seems to fall behind Italy and Spain. This is due to the relatively strict regulations and driven policies already in place, which have affected the baseline from which savings potential has been calculated.

Challenges and benefits

Key challenges identified in the report include structural issues, financial constraints, social resistance and legal barriers that hamper the energy efficiency potential in the residential sector. On the other hand, successful renovations increase property values, improve the comfort of living and contribute to a healthy indoor environment, in addition to the obvious benefits of lower energy consumption and consequently decreased energy cost and climate impact.

Knowing these challenges helps the project address them in a targeted manner. The benefits of energy efficiency renovations are manifold, but most of them become visible only over time, while the upfront expenditure of money, time and effort is felt immediately. The RenOnBill project aims to balance these immediate costs with longer-term benefits.

About RenOnBill

The Horizon 2020 project RenOnBill aims to scale up investments towards deep energy renovations of residential buildings by promoting the development and implementation of on-bill schemes, based on the cooperation between energy utilities and financial institutions. For more information on the project visit the website or follow the project’s Twitter account.

Contact person: Sophia Stock