Governments and businesses across Europe are being urged to come together to create ambitious plans for how their countries will cut emissions from existing buildings, in order to meet the Paris Agreement and halt global temperature rises.

The call comes from the World Green Building Council as the countdown to an EU deadline for the plans fast approaches.

EU Member States will have just one year to submit so-called “national renovation strategies” – detailed plans on how they will renovate their nation’s homes and commercial buildings to high standards of energy efficiency.

Existing buildings currently account for 36 per cent of the EU’s total carbon emissions and ensuring they are as energy efficient as possible will be key to help meet the Paris Agreement, and the region’s goals under the EU’s ‘Energy Union’.

Last month, 13 Green Building Councils across Europe officially launched BUILD UPON – the world’s largest collaborative project on building renovation. The project aims to create a renovation revolution across Europe, by establishing renovation strategies that involve and align the thousands of actors and existing initiatives tackling building renovation in the region.

James Drinkwater, Director of the WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network, said: “Emissions from existing buildings are one of the biggest climate challenges facing Europe and curbing them will be absolutely critical if we are to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Europe is doing a huge amount on energy efficient renovation, but it’s not adding up to the results we need because of a lack of coordination.

“Countries now have just one year to put in place renovation strategies strong enough to meet this challenge, and this will require unprecedented collaboration from governments, industry, and a range of other organisations.

“This is where the BUILD UPON project can help – bringing actors together to establish strong, coherent national strategies to transform Europe’s ageing and inefficient building stock. We urge these countries to work with us and our partners to develop ambitious, coordinated strategies.”

BUILD UPON has begun convening a major policy dialogue process with over 1,000 organisations, from governments and local authorities, construction companies and product manufacturers, to energy providers and banks, who will join forces to tackle this issue.

On 20 to 21 September, a coalition of over 200 building renovation leaders from across Europe will meet in Madrid, Spain, to agree a long-term vision for deep building renovation and the practical measures needed to achieve it.

The EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive requires Member States to submit long-term strategies to mobilise investment in renovating existing residential and commercial properties, but to date, the full investment potential is far from being realised. Investor groups have called for clearer long-term renovation targets as policy-makers in Brussels debate revisions to the EU’s main climate and buildings laws: the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive.

Patty Fong, Programme Director of the Energy Efficiency Programme at the European Climate Foundation and a BUILD UPON board member, said: “The EU is in the process of revising major laws that will decide the role that Europe’s building sector plays in achieving Paris’ ambition. What we really need is political and industry leadership with a long-term vision for the deep renovation of our building stock so we’re able to meet our collective climate targets, and strong national renovation strategies have a clear role to play in this – which is why our network is partnering with BUILD UPON.”