Building Renovation at District Level: Combining Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Sources

On October 10th, e-SAFE had the pleasure to attend the BUILD UP (“European portal for energy efficiency and renewable energy in building”) Webinar focused on building renovation with an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability at the district level! 

During the webinar, international experts presented the main findings and recommendations from the IEA (International Energy Agency). They highlighted the key and inspiring results of the EBC (Energy in Buildings and Communities) Annex 75 project, showing the potential of district approaches for cost-effectively decarbonisation of the building sector. 


The EBC is a research program of the IEA that focuses on the development of innovative solutions and the promotion of best practices to reduce energy consumption in buildings and communities. “Annex 75” is a specialized sub-program (working group) within the broader EBC framework, where experts and researchers collaboratively delve into specific aspects of energy efficiency pertinent to buildings and communities. 

Annex 75’s goals are to investigate cost-effective strategies for reducing carbon emissions and energy use in buildings at the district level. It aims to provide actionable guidance for policymakers, corporations, and building owners. A central focus is also on the optimal balance between energy efficiency measures and those promoting the utilization of renewable energy sources. The scope of this project encompasses residential and non-residential buildings that do not feature complex Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. 


District-level renovations present a unique set of challenges when seeking equilibrium between renewable energy supplies and energy-efficient measures for existing building stocks. However, these challenges can yield substantial rewards 

The methodology designed for this purpose, along with its practical application in the case study of Luzern, Switzerland, was discussed in detail during the webinar. The conclusions are the following: 

→There are no one-fits-all solutions: tailored solutions are crucial for each district; 

→The best solution depends on the initial state of the district (insulation levels and associated energy needs, availability of existing district heating system, available energy sources and so on); 

→Synergies between energy efficiency measures and renewable energy-based heating systems are evident across various heating system types, with renovation measures for building envelopes typically being the most cost-effective; 

Cost-effectiveness differences between centralized and decentralized solutions are generally modest, though specific reasons may favor centralized approaches; 

Successful implementation of district-level projects necessitates supportive policy measures. 


The discussion also addressed the challenges and catalysts for energy-efficient renovations at the district level, accompanied by policy recommendations. Additionally, the webinar explored various policy instruments for promoting district-scale approaches and addressing associated local and social challenges: 

  • Streamlining the local implementation of these instruments to encourage widespread adoption; 
  • National-level policies to alleviate potential barriers; 
  • Empowering or relieving local authorities of specific responsibilities. 


Thank you BUILD UP for this interesting opportunity to deepen the latest development in building renovation at district level.

We look forward to the next webinar! 

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