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Building repair construction strategy aims to reduce the building stock’s emissions by 90 per cent by 2050

Press release 2020-03-11 at 14:42

Finland’s long-term repair construction strategy has been finalised. The strategy applies to residential and service buildings the construction of which has been completed by the beginning of 2020. This means a total of 1.4 million buildings. The aim of the strategy is to reduce the CO2 emissions of buildings by 90% from the beginning of 2020 to 2050. The strategy is part of the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which entered into force in 2018.

The heating of residential buildings and service buildings/non-residential buildings causes around 7.8 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions a year, which is equal to around 17 per cent of Finland's current carbon dioxide emissions (46 MtCO2).

"It's great that we now have a comprehensive plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by the use of buildings and housing. The repair of buildings so they are energy efficient along with heating with renewable energy in place of fossil fuels are important measures leading towards a carbon neutral Finland in 2035. Improving energy efficiency will also help to curb the rise in housing costs,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.

The strategy lays down cost-effective methods for transforming the existing building stock so it is very energy efficient and low carbon by 2050. The strategy includes an overview of Finland's building stock, targets for energy efficiency, cost-effective repair measures and their funding, and policy measures to promote the repair of buildings so they are energy-efficient and low-carbon in terms of heating.

The strategy focuses on existing buildings, as the buildings that will be completed in 2020 and later will be built in accordance with provisions that require a high level of energy efficiency and low-emissions, a nearly zero energy level.

Improved energy efficiency, space solutions and renewable energy to lead to emission reductions

According to the strategy, discontinuing the use of fossil fuels in the heating of buildings and in electricity production will result in a 40 per cent reduction of emissions from existing buildings by 2050 in comparison to what they were in 2020. Improving energy efficiency will reduce emissions by a total of 20 per cent, and a 30 per cent reduction in emissions will be achieved by discontinuing the use of old buildings and improving space efficiency.

The strategy includes a total of 85 measures, of which 36 have already been implemented, 16 are under preparation and 33 have been issued as recommendations to authorities, property owners and other stakeholders. The strategy takes into account, in particular, buildings used by municipalities and the state, buildings that consume the most energy, and the most vulnerable households.

Its objective is to increase the share of nearly zero-energy buildings from 10% to over 90% by 2050. The owners of residential buildings are encouraged to make repairs that will improve energy efficiency, for example with funding from energy subsidies, which will total EUR 100 million between 2020 and 2022. The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) grants energy subsidies.

The strategy includes recommendations on cost-effective repairs and improvements to energy efficiency for single-family houses, semi-detached houses, row houses, apartment blocks and non-residential buildings. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is the most cost-effective and material-efficient when carried out at the same time as other renovations. This is also specified in the requirements for improving energy efficiency in connection with repairs, which entered into force in 2013.

It is estimated that the use of 30% of old buildings will be discontinued by 2050. This will be due, among other things, to the ageing of the building stock, the concentration of the population in growth centres and the increasingly dense urban structure.

The use of coal in heat production will be discontinued by the end of 2029. According to the Government Programme, oil heating using fossil fuel oil will be discontinued by the beginning of the 2030s. Oil heating in state-owned buildings will be phased out completely by 2024. Subsidies to facilitate the phasing out of oil heating are being prepared for 2021.

Progress to be monitored every two years

The strategy period lasts until 2050 and will be updated every 10 years. The first report on its progress will be published in 2023 and every two years thereafter. The reports monitor for example

changes in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy also includes a carbon footprint indicator to be developed in Finland, which can be used in the near future to monitor emissions from large-scale renovations. The indicator will be introduced and more detailed targets will be set for it once the carbon footprint calculation method and the building material emission database are in use.

The monitoring system will be completed by 2023.

Strategy prepared in broad cooperation

The strategy has been drawn up in projects initiated by the Ministry of the Environment. A monitoring group consisting of representatives of the real estate and construction sector organisations and state agencies supported the preparation of the strategy.

REMPPA, a joint project between Motiva Ltd, VTT and the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, mapped out the current state of the building stock, repair measures and Finland’s policy measures. The Finnish Environment Institute’s and VTT’s RetroCheck project produced indicators for transitioning to a low carbon building stock, a baseline for repair construction, a repair construction roadmap for 2030, 2040 and 2050, and a monitoring system for the monitoring and reporting of repair construction.

Two public hearings, a separate expert hearing and six workshops organised throughout Finland have all been organised in connection with the strategy. Experts from nearly 150 organisations have participated in the work.

"The strategy is as functional and as feasible as possible, because it has been compiled openly, in collaboration with stakeholders," Minister Mikkonen says.

The strategy was forwarded to the EU today 10 March, in accordance with the requirements laid down in the Directive.

Enquiries:

Jyrki Kauppinen, Senior Construction Adviser, jyrki.kauppinen@ym.fi, tel. 0295 250 122

Timo Juurikkala, Special Adviser to the Minister, timo.juurikkala@ym.fi, tel. 040 555 4013