Old European Building Stock

A recent study by DG Internal Policy [DG Internal Policies, 2016] reveals that the stock of residential buildings in the EU is growing old very fast, with more than 40% of them built before 1960, and 90% before 1990. One of the main drawbacks of older buildings is the higher energy consumption (as an example, new buildings generally need fewer than three to five litres of heating oil per square meter per year, while older buildings consume about 25 litres on average). This is a huge problem considering that buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption, 36% of its CO2 emissions and 55% of its electricity consumption. This situation implies that renovation of existing buildings must be accelerated to fulfil EU’s climate and energy targets [1], but the current renovation rate is very low (about 1- 2% per year) and most of these renovations do not obtain all the energy savings that could be achieved. Additionally, the renovation process is not properly managed, due to several reasons:

  • Owners are not well advised because of the lack of relevant information about the existing stock, which makes the development of feasibility studies quite cumbersome;
  • The overall design phase is very long and expensive and requires many different skills;
  • The execution of renovations tasks is not cost-effective mostly due to the uncertainty about the current state of the building, or the need for too frequent revisions of work plans and design changes.

In this context, it is urgent to provide effective and affordable tools to boost the renovation ratio. Since some years now, the use of Building Information Modelling solutions (or BIM, is a detailed digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building and its components to be used during the whole life-cycle [Watson, 2011]) has become a de facto standard to effectively manage and follow-up the whole construction process, though its use is not very extended in renovation projects.

[1] 2020 Climate and Energy Package, https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/2020_en