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"Spain has to multiply its rate of building rehabilitation by 25"

22 Marzo - 2022

In the European Union (EU)  homes consume 40% of all energy, generate 36% of all community CO₂ emissions and consume 55% of all electricity. PhD in Economic Sciences, Bachelor of Laws, Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation Metropolitan House and collaborator of the Decent and Sustainable Housing Chair at UPF Barcelona School of ManagementJosé Luís Pellicer, talks about how the energy rehabilitation of buildings has a leading role in the ecological transition.

What is the situation of the housing stock in Spain in terms of rehabilitation needs?

Of the 24 million homes in Spain, 10 million need urgent reform, 50% of which were built prior to 1980; Of these 1 million homes are in very poor or very bad condition, of which 385,000 were built before 1950. In fact, 83% of the Spanish housing stock is over 40 years old.

In Spain only 4.2 million homes have an energy efficiency certificate, of which in Catalonia there are more than 1 million. Of these, only 5% have an A, B or C rating; 66% have a D or E rating and 29% have an F or G rating. We are far from achieving the energy objectives set by the European Union (EU).

"The fragmentation of the value chain implies a very important barrier in the renovation of buildings"

In addition to the energy problem, there are other aspects that seriously affect people who live there. 50% of homes do not have adequate accessibility for people with reduced mobility, 22% of homes have poor sound insulation and 12% have serious pollution problems.

This panorama of the residential park shows us all the long way to go in terms of rehabilitation and regeneration that remains to be done.

What is the situation of the housing stock in the EU?

In the EU, homes consume 40% of all energy, generate 36% of all community CO₂ emissions and consume 55% of all electricity. With these data, the energy rehabilitation of buildings has a leading role in the ecological transition.

What is the level of home renovation in Spain compared to Europe?

The rate of rehabilitation in Europe is 1%, although it would have to be between 2% and 3% in order to achieve the objectives of the Green Pact by 2050; Spain is bottom of the ranking. The EU would have to triple the current rate to reach the objectives, but Spain would have to multiply its building rehabilitation rate by 25.

What is the activity in terms of rehabilitation in Spain?

The Housing and Soil Observatory has noted a growing interest in the rehabilitation and improvement of the Spanish housing stock. Above all because of the aid programs, the improvement in financing and taxation, as well as the reforms in the regulatory framework that are being carried out.

There are doubts about whether the Next Generation funds for rehabilitation will reach their ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of people in their homes

According to the Construction Structure survey, in 2019 the total volume of building business in Spain was 89,000 million euros, of which 51% corresponds to renovations of all kinds in 31,000 buildings. For rehabilitation actions, 19,000 million euros were allocated to construction and 15,000 million euros to facilities. In relation to the number of licenses granted to Spain, 57% were for rehabilitation; in the Basque Country it represented 93%, in the Canary Islands 38% and in Catalonia 53%, but it was the leader in the number of buildings with rehabilitation actions, more than 4,000.

It seems that there is a change in trend, for various reasons, towards rehabilitation of buildings versus new construction.

What are the reasons that rehabilitation is still an incipient sector in Spain?

In my opinion there are four factors that have a negative impact: the lack of qualified professionals; the excess of bureaucracy; a lack of continuity in aid and an excess of intermediaries.

The fragmentation of the value chain implies a very important barrier in the renovation of buildings. Many actors are involved in any home renovation process: energy companies, owners, tenants, manufacturers and public entities. Often these have different interests which do not make it any easier to speed up building renovation.

EU rehabilitation plans are very ambitious and are divided in rehabilitation of buildings, energy efficiency and neighborhood rehabilitation. Will this money reach the citizens or will "the usual" keep them?

Relevant doubts are generated about whether these funds will reach their ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of people in their homes. Often the aid budgeted by the EU is not fully used in Spain. Sometimes due to the interests of the Administrations or due to the complicated bureaucratic system, which is reflected in the lack of information to the beneficiaries and the complicated and slow management.

The funds derived from the Next Generation in terms of rehabilitation could also suffer from this situation, despite the fact that the figure of the professional and approved rehabilitation agent has been introduced for the first time, guarantors of the process that would have to facilitate everything. The doubt of the rehabilitation sector lies in the fact that despite the fact that this agent would have to streamline the entire process, what role will the organizations involved really have, to which the regulations grant them only the supervisory function of the process.

A large part of the aid is to rehabilitate buildings, but everyone knows that agreeing on a community of neighbors is a mess, will this be a stumbling block in implementing the aid?

Certainly, unanimity in agreements is not often prevalent in communities of owners for all kinds of reasons: position (owner-tenant), age, disposable income...

The lack of supplies will probably slow down the number or scope of rehabilitations

The financing of the owner is capital, so that the work is carried out and consequently can benefit from the subsidies provided.

Can the material crisis delay the Government's housing rehabilitation objectives?

We are facing an exceptional situation, which is generating a lack of raw materials and construction materials; This is having a direct impact on supply, rising costs and transport.

Obviously, while this situation lasts, the works may have to be temporarily stopped. Simultaneously, the increase in cost will affect the total cost of rehabilitation and less aid. Therefore, it would be foreseeable in the short term, the reduction of the number or scope of the rehabilitations and, therefore, of the subsidies as well as a longer term of those.

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