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“Non-optimal” policies for the energy renovation of housing, according to France Strategy

Lack of support, insufficient aid systems, new standards without “guarantee that they are fully sufficient and adapted”: a report published on Wednesday by France Strategy considers “non-optimal” energy renovation policies for housing.

“Since the adoption of the first SNBC (National low-carbon strategy, editor’s note), the reduction in emissions in the building sector remains insufficient with regard to the objectives”, notes the organization which depends on Matignon.

Already in 2020, the High Council for the Climate (HCC), quoted in the report, pointed to the inadequacy of subsidy schemes such as MaPrimeRénov’ or 5.5% VAT and existing loan offers hitherto “in the face of the amount of work and the low financing capacity of households”.

“Obtaining aid is also not systematically conditional on an obligation of result in terms of energy performance gain”, notes France Strategy, also noting a “deficit in access to information and support”, “the deadlines for carrying out the work” or the need for “upgrading the skills of craftsmen”, which constitute “as many obstacles to energy renovation”.

If the latest measures put in place, such as the 2020 environmental regulations (RE2020), now mandatory for new constructions, or the ban on the installation of oil-fired boilers “will make it possible to strengthen the decarbonization effort in the sector, however, there is no guarantee that they will be fully sufficient and appropriate,” believes France Stratégie.

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“Renovation actions undertaken in housing today mainly come down to isolated gestures or combined in successive layers”, added the organization, recalling that 86% of MaPrimRénov’ files validated “between January 2020 and June 2021 concerned single-step renovation works”, which are, for 98% of them, changes in heating systems, “mainly heat pumps, which, installed in poorly insulated housing, raise questions in terms of electrical peaks on very cold days.

However, the cost of the works and the “low calibration of aid (…) partly explain why households” make this choice of single actions, when “complete renovation operations in a single step (or very few stages) are often put forward as a necessary condition for achieving an equivalent BBC level” (low-consumption building).

The SNBC sets the objective that the residential stock “reach on average a BBC performance level in 2050”, further specified France Strategy.

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