Unlocking Building Renovation: Key Insights from TIMEPAC’s Verification Scenarios in Austria

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To continue the series of workshops dedicated to the TIMEPAC Verification Scenarios,  Austrian partners at the SERA Institute organized a series of workshops in Salzburg, Vienna, and Graz, focusing on the “Refurbishment Concept and Renovation Passport – the step-by-step renovation of buildings”. The events aimed to gather diverse feedback on TIMEPAC methods and tools in relation to the enhancement of EPCs, particularly in the context of financing refurbishment measures under the EU-Taxonomy.

Building a Renovation Passport to increase the renovation rate

Participants delved into the practical implementation challenges of a Renovation Passport, a Renovation Roadmap, and an enhanced Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that incorporates links to data repositories and Building Information Modeling (BIM). The decision to address interconnected tasks simultaneously proved beneficial, fostering collaboration among stakeholders.

Key discussions revolved around what specific features the next-generation of EPCs should have and how to structure a Building Renovation Passport so that it can effectively help to increase building renovation rates. Practical issues, including obtaining necessary data efficiently and distinguishing between new and existing buildings in the EPC, were also explored.

Clearer EU building regulations and guidelines needed

Some of the conclusions from the discussion highlighted the need for clear specifications under new EU regulations and reluctance to anticipate actions. Participants raised concerns about implementing an improved EPC, employing BIM, and declaring consumption data for heating requirements without clearer guidance.

The following key takeaways from the discussion can serve as a basis for improved policy guidance as well as a basis for preparing future training in the sector:

  1. Building Distinction: Tailoring Regulations for Varied Lifespans. A crucial realization echoed by panelists was the need to distinguish between new constructions and those earmarked for renovation. This recognition extends to the challenge of comparing or mapping the two within the EPC. The call is clear — introduce distinct building regulations for new and existing structures. Historic constructions with centuries-long lifespans deserve regulations that do justice to their unique characteristics.
  2. Renovation Passport: Charting the Path to Decarbonization. The Renovation Passport, a focal point of the discussion, needs simplicity and user-friendliness, a visual approach with a traffic light system could convey planned measures and associated cost savings. The aim is to make the Renovation Passport an effective tool for obtaining subsidies and favorable conditions from banks, aligning with the EU-Taxonomy.
  3. Renovation Roadmap: Navigating the Journey with Precision. The need for a Renovation Roadmap, distinct from the Renovation Passport, became evident. This roadmap, akin to a renovation concept, should contain detailed measures and schedules. A critical point underscored was the importance of differentiating roles in energy consulting for various building types. Defining clear interfaces with architecture and specifying different levels of detail for the Renovation Roadmap emerged as key recommendations.
  4. Obligation to Renovate and Simplification of EPC. Participants explored the idea of imposing penalties for non-compliance with Renovation Roadmap and Passport targets, emphasizing the importance of adherence to schedules and deadlines. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) underwent scrutiny, with a plea to simplify its calculations. The EPC should reflect technical and climatic developments, especially in renewable energy technologies and summer overheating.
  5. Integration of BIM and Addressing Legal Issues. The discussion delved into the integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM), with varied opinions on its complexity. Recommendations included developing simple BIM-based tools for widespread use and addressing associated legal issues. The potential benefits of BIM, such as reducing discrepancies between EPC and planning documents, were highlighted.
  6. EU-Taxonomy Compliance and Subsidy Schemes. Aligning with EU-Taxonomy requirements became a central theme. Suggestions were made to design the new EPC and Renovation Passport in a way that information required by the EU-Taxonomy and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) can be seamlessly integrated. Funding approval was linked to adherence to Renovation Passport and Roadmap targets, with a focus on stepwise renovation and mandatory monitoring.
  7. Building Stock Reporting and Socio-political Considerations. A call for holistic reporting on the building stock, drawing from TIMEPAC’s reference building approach, was noted. Socio-political issues emphasized the support of SMEs, caution against undue influence from industrial lobbies, and the urgent need for federal requirements to facilitate renovation financing.

In conclusion, attendees to these workshops helped to pave the way for a future where building renovations are guided by clarity, simplicity, and a holistic approach, aligning with sustainability goals and EU regulations.  Through the launch of its upcoming training activities (TIMEPAC Academy) the TIMEPAC project aims to play its part in supporting the journey toward more energy-efficient, eco-friendly buildings.