Copper’s Role in the Renovation Wave

Buildings account for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO₂ emissions in the EU. More than 220 million building units, representing 85% of the EU building stock, were built before 2001. 85-95% of today’s buildings will still be standing in 2050.  Renovation rate and depth need to increase to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

The renovation wave

The European Commission’s  Renovation Wave Strategy* is at the heart of Europe’s post-covid recovery and aims to green our buildings, create jobs and improve lives. The key targets are:

  • By 2030 the EU should reduce buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions by 60%, their final energy consumption by 14% and energy consumption for heating and cooling by 18%.
  • The RW addresses the low rate of energy renovation, around 1% across the EU, with the aim to at least double this for both residential and non-residential buildings by 2030, fostering deep energy renovation.
  • Mobilising forces at all levels towards these goals will result in the renovation of 35 million units by 2030.

*European Commission Renovation Wave Strategy 14 October 2020

Copper makes buildings a climate solution

The renovation wave is an essential part of the energy transition without which a climate-neutral EU will not be feasible. It requires mobilisation of tremendous resources but considering that buildings are at the crossroads of the electricity, heating and transport sectors we can see it as an excellent opportunity to solve multiple climate issues and turn buildings from a problem into a solution for the climate.

Copper's role in climate neutral renovation
Copper’s role in climate neutral renovation (click image to view infographic)

Copper drives deep energy renovation of buildings

Copper is a key element for decarbonisation of the building stock due to its inherent properties, particularly its excellent electrical and thermal
conductivity, making it the material of choice for low carbon, efficient and smart building technologies.

Copper is needed for many applications in buildings and their renovation:

  • Copper improves efficiency of heat exchangers in heat pumps, solar thermal and waste heat recovery systems.
  • Copper is a key material for safe electrical installations (wires and cables), renewable energy generation (photovoltaics) and storage (batteries).
  • Copper wiring is fire resistant and with an increased cross section can improve efficiency.
  • Copper is used in sensors, actuators and cables in building automation systems as well as photovoltaic system.

Copper products have long service lives and can be recycled infinitely at end of life, making copper a sustainable material.

  • Copper industry has an established responsible production programme, the Copper Mark.
  • Copper products are already highly recycled and the scrap value chain is well-established. Ambitious recovery targets are needed to increase recycling at end of life.
  • Copper has long-term availability.

Benefits Of Deep Energy Renovation

To foster deep energy renovation an encompassing and integrated strategy must be adopted following these key principles:

  • Energy efficiency first
  • Decarbonisation of heating and cooling via electrification
  • Integration of renewables
  • Sector integration and demand side flexibility
  • Life-cycle thinking and circularity
  • Increased safety standards, e.g. electrical
  • High health and environmental standards
  • Affordability and alleviation of energy poverty

Renovation is not only about reducing energy bills and cutting down emissions. It can open up numerous possibilities and generate far-reaching social, environmental and economic benefits. Through renovation, buildings can be made healthier, safer, greener, smart, sustainable and circular, interconnected within a neighbourhood district, more accessible, resilient to extreme natural events, and support the roll out of e-mobility, among others.

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Benefits and enablers of deep energy renovation
Benefits and enablers of deep energy renovation (click on image to view infographic)


WWHR - the low hanging fruit of decarbonisation

Every day, more than 22,000,000 m3 of hot water are consumed by European homes alone. This is the main source of energy consumption for new housing, and yet 80 percent of this heat ends up in sewers and is wasted. 80 percent of hot water is used in showers, and harvesting heat from shower drains could save around 40 percent of energy and CO2 emissions. Read our white paper.