Hotrec, the umbrella Association of Hotels, Restaurants, Bars and Cafes and similar establishments in Europe, welcomes the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) but maintains that governments must provide fiscal incentives and exclude mandatory costs to prevent small businesses in the hospitality sector from collapsing.
1. EPDB and small businesses
Ahead of the European Parliament’s vote to achieve zero-emissions in buildings by 2050, Hotrec is urging policymakers to create an environment that supports companies towards the shift for greater sustainability. Recognising the urgent need to improve energy efficiency in existing and new buildings, Marta Machado, Hotrec’s Deputy Director says: “It’s no secret that a staggering 99% of businesses in the sector fall under the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) category (…) Unfortunately, SMEs are also more susceptible to crises and challenges compared to larger, more structured corporations.”
Citing concerns related to infrastructure adjustments, Machado maintains the need for a “balanced approach” when deciding the future of the EPBD, which will be discussed tomorrow by the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council. Among the priorities named by Hotrec, charging stations and bicycle parking spaces should not be mandatory, and solar energy should be encouraged but not imposed, the company says in a position paper. Finally, the sector hopes to see some clarity in the definition of public, residential and non-residential buildings.
2. Government’s support
Overall, Hotrec welcomes the revision of the EPBD but maintains that governments must provide fiscal incentives such as tax relief, guarantee funds or funds targeting deep renovation. When it comes to Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs) for non-residential buildings, Hotrec is calling for a phased approach with primary energy consumption-based thresholds. In this sense, all non-residential buildings will be below the 15% threshold as of 1 January 2030 and 25% as of 1 January 2034.
“We also welcome the possibility to exempt buildings, in light of the expected future use of the building or in the case of an unfavourable cost-benefit assessment. MEPs should not be mandatory,” reads Hotrec’s paper.
3. Energy consumption
Buildings in the EU are responsible for 40% of the bloc’s energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to EU data. On top of that huge absorption of final energy, about 75% of buildings are considered energy inefficient.
On 15 December 2021, the Commission adopted a legislative proposal to revise the EPBD as part of the so-called ‘Fit for 55’ package. Later on, in July 2021, a new European Climate Law enshrined both the 2030 and the 2050 targets into binding European law.
“We urge co-legislators to craft a rational approach to the Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings. Our goal is to make it environmentally sustainable while providing the necessary support for companies, especially SMEs, to comply with the legislation effectively,” wrote Machado on LinkedIn.