Buildings have a critical role to play in fighting climate change, being responsible for 36% of GHG emissions in Europe. Renovating these buildings to reduce our energy consumption will be key to safeguarding the wellbeing of our societies, however current renovation rates are not sufficient to ensure a rapid decarbonisation. A new report shows that citizens can significantly speed up the process of renovating the EU’s building stock.

What is citizen-led renovation, and how does it work?

Citizen-led renovation is a concept developed by with support from our members in partnership with the Coalition for Energy Savings, Stefan Scheuer Consulting and the European Climate Foundation. Its purpose is to develop a bottom-up method to trigger building renovation projects in private and collective housing, led by their owners: Citizens.

However, citizens currently often face barriers related to simple home renovation projects, especially when it comes to deep renovation (the kind needed to decarbonise Europe's building stock). Can cooperatives aid this transition?

The role of energy cooperatives in buildings renovation

With the definition of Renewable Energy Communities now included in the recast Renewable Energy Directive, and the need for EU Member States to develop enabling frameworks to support these communities, there is an unprecedented opportunity for European citizens to develop collective approaches to issues such as renovation through a local lens.

Cooperatives have long invested profits of renewable energy activities in supporting members on building renovations, by increasing social acceptance and keeping individual investments affordable. Programmes such as RhedCoop in Belgium and People Power Retrofit in the UK harnessed this potential to bring about citizen-led renovation, though barriers such as access to technical skills prevent these projects excelling to the best of their ability.

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Why this report?

Following the REScoop PLUS project, which set out to promote energy efficiency within energy cooperatives, members such as Energie Partagée, Enercoop, Middelgrunden and Energie Samen expressed interest in finding solutions to tackle the challenges associated with renovation.

In order to support the development of citizen-led renovation in Europe, this report identifies several key barriers and drivers.. This work led us to the expression of a clear need by citizen-led organisations (cooperatives, communities and municipalities) for support established at the European level. This service should be built around 4 pillars:

Training and capacity building: Produce content and training for the cooperatives and communities that are looking to take on a building renovation activity.

Research and monitoring: Monitor and investigate existing resources in order to collect evidence and provide training material for citizen-led initiatives.

Fundraising and pipeline building: There are several funding streams available at the European level. However, most of them require the collection of a larger pipelines of renovation projects.

Advocacy: There is a need for specific policies to be developed both at national and European levels to support community ownership to invest in the building renovation sector.

Where do we go from here?

In order to speed up the decarbonisation of Europe's building stock, the Renovation Wave roadmap published by the European Commission on the 11th of May should reflect the priority given to citizens of Europe looking to make a difference. and its partners at the Coalition for Energy Savings are currently looking into the development of the above mentioned activities. The more we are, the more we learn. further invites all our members and energy communities looking to learn more about building renovation to join our Building Renovation working group.

For more information on citizen-led renovation and to join the Building Renovation group, please don't hesitate to get in touch with with