Following building standards currently in force, almost 75% of the EU’s building stock is energy inefficient. The Renovation Wave communication, published in October 2020, aimed to tackle this issue and set a target of ‘at least doubling’ the building renovation rate, which currently stands low at around 1%. In order to reach these targets, the Commission has proposed a review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The revision must be carefully balanced to ensure that renovations mitigate energy poverty and that the most vulnerable households do not bear the costs.
In its 2018 revision, the EPBD introduced references to safety, bringing more attention to the topic and, in 2020, the European Commission published guidelines in which electrical safety is explicitly mentioned (2.3.4. Safety issues) :
“Less expensive housing tends to be older with obsolete electrical installations, making energy-poor consumers particularly vulnerable. Measures such as regular inspections (in particular before a renovation) and upgrades to bring electrical installations up to safety standards can dramatically improve electrical safety. The safety inspection of electrical and gas installations and appliances is also to be encouraged.”
Also indicating that
“degraded or faulty electrical installations cause 32 home fires every hour (20-30 % of all domestic fires)”.
The current EPBD revision is a new opportunity to bring electrical safety higher into the agenda. Taking the example of ENVI opinion, many placeholders are likely to host positive input in favour of inspections and increased attention on electrical installations:
National Building Renovation Plans (Annex II)
“unsafe electrical installation” is added to the description of inadequate dwelling conditions policies and measures with regard to “the increase of electrical safety” is added as indicator.
Major renovations (Art 8, new §)
Member States shall ensure that electrical installations of all dwellings are inspected during normatively required building inspections and also when important pieces of electrical equipment are added, such as electrical vehicle charging points, home batteries, photovoltaic installations, heat pumps, etc.
Renovation Passports (Art 10)
Inclusion of benefits related to health, safety (fire, electrical and seismic).
Energy Performance Certificates (Annex V)
Status of electrical installation (reference to latest inspection) added as indicator.
Social Climate Fund
The proposal for a Social Climate Fund (SCF) was published by the Commission under the ‘Fit for 55’ Package on 15 July 2021. It is closely linked to the revision of the Emission Trading System (ETS) and has been designed to mitigate the social impact of the revised system, especially in the building and transport sector. The proposal is focused on redirecting the funds generated by the ETS to support programmes for vulnerable citizens affected by emission reduction measures in the car and building sectors. This proposal has been listed in the Commission’s priority pending proposals for the 2022 Work Programme. The ongoing energy price crisis in Europe has shed further light on the need to support vulnerable households during the transition.
FEEDS welcomes two keys amendments related to electrical safety that have been adopted by the European Parliament on 22 June 2022 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Social Climate Fund:
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point 1 (Definition of building renovation)
(1) ‘building renovation’ means any kind of energy-related building renovation and accompanying safety measures, including by contributing to the renovation requirements established in Directive …/… [on the energy performance of buildings (recast), aimed to reduce the building’s energy consumption, including: the insulation of the building envelope, that is to say walls, roof, floor, the replacement of windows; passive ventilation; the installation of heat pumps and cooling systems; the replacement of heating, cooling and cooking appliances; the upgrade of electrical installations and the installation of on-site production of energy from renewable sources, heat recuperation systems or the connection to nearby systems using energy and storage from renewable sources;
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – point a (Members State Social Climate Plan shall include projects to:)
(a) finance measures and investments to increase energy efficiency of buildings, to implement energy efficiency improvement measures, to carry out building renovation and accompanying safety measures, where appropriate in combination with improvements in line with fire and seismic safety standards, and to decarbonise heating and cooling of buildings, including the integration of energy production and storage of energy from renewable sources in accordance with Article 6;
In September 2017, following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London, the European Commission announced a new initiative to enhance fire safety cooperation across EU Member States: the Fire Exchange Platform (FIEP) was created by the European Commission DG Grow with support from Estonian Council Presidency in 2017. The Fire Exchange Platform (FIEP)’s objectives are to stimulate the cooperation among the Member States as well as to allow the exchange of best practices and lessons learned between the Member States and relevant stakeholders in the field of fire safety. To be successful FIEP needs participation both from regulatory and non-regulatory perspectives, and open discussion about the success stories as well as challenges encountered.
FEEDS and its members fully support the work and philosophy of the FIEP that can provide the necessary lever to replicate successful fire prevention initiatives across Members states.
EUFireStat is a pilot project financed by the European Parliament and commissioned by DG GROW at the European Commission. The aim was to map the terminology used and the data collected by the EU Member States regarding fire events, and to propose a harmonised terminology and method to collect the data in the EU. This would allow for knowledge-based policy making regarding fire safety at the Member State and the EU level regarding building fires.
EUFireStat project (Closing data gaps and paving the way for pan-European fire safety efforts) has finalized and the final report is available behind this link. The report provides a very good overview of the situation of managing fire safety statistics in Europe and internationally. It also identifies potential ways forward for further harmonization and cross-learning between different countries.
As soon as possible, the pilot project must be followed up by actual data collection at a European level and integrated within Eurostat. To do so, the pilot project should be followed-up by a preparatory action again initiated by the European Parliament.