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The time dimension in deep renovation: evidence and analysis from across the EU

07 June, 2019

The time dimension in deep renovation: evidence and analysis from across the EU

Marina Topouzi

Tina Fawcett

Research paper   Policy & Governance

Tina Fawcett and Marina Topouzi


Deep renovation of buildings is acknowledged both as a national and EU priority, and as being very difficult to achieve at sufficient scale and speed. A novel way to understand this complexity is to look at how renovation relates to time and timing in the physical, commercial and social systems in which it is embedded.

Deep renovation fits into a complex set of timings: time taken to renovate, the lifetime of individual measures, the payback time of investments, the amount of time a building is owned or rented, the life / business stage of occupiers, moments of opportunity. The aim of this research is to better analyse, characterise and contextualise the time dimensions of deep retrofit, from policy, market, building and user perspectives, and thus to suggest how deep retrofit can be accelerated.

The research begins with case studies which take different approaches to time. First are those which aim to speed up retrofit. This can be by technical innovations which focus on fast production and fitting of energy saving technologies, or though subsidised funding mechanisms, or both. Examples include KfW loans and Energiesprong. The alternative approach is to encourage deep staged retrofit over a longer time scale, e.g. via individual building renovation roadmaps. Involvement in the retrofit process is elongated rather than compressed in time.

In parallel we gather empirical evidence from EU-funded H2020 projects, recent UK renovation research, member states’ building renovation policies, and communication materials from EU-level think tanks and NGOs. Analysing this data, together with the case studies, we look at how deep renovation as a whole is envisaged playing out over time, and the time characteristics of proposed solutions and the extent to which they respond to faster and further policy targets.The paper concludes with suggestions on how EU and national policy could be re-framed to better support deep renovation.

Publication details

Fawcett, T. and Topouzi, M. 2019. The time dimension in deep renovation: evidence and analysis from across the EUOpens in a new tab. In: Proceedings of the eceee 2019 Summer Study on energy efficiency, Paper 7-162-19. Hyères, France, 03–07 June 2019. Open access

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