In the EU, energy use in buildings is responsible for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of carbon emissions. Yet, 75% of European buildings are energy inefficient. Buildings have an essential role to play in reaching the EU’s carbon neutrality and energy-efficiency objectives.
It is often assumed that energy-efficient buildings are more fire-safe than their predecessors. Still, when renovating using innovative energy-efficient solutions and an increased share of renewables, the inherent fire risk increases. This can compromise the fire safety of users. We must renovate holistically: the occupants’ safety and wellbeing are crucial, and the process of enhancing buildings’ energy efficiency should not weaken fire safety aspects. Renovations are an opportunity to increase both energy efficiency and fire safety. We believe that:
- Taking a holistic approach to energy efficiency, which accounts for fire safety, is vital to ensure people’s well-being and safety.
- Renovations are an opportunity to capitalise on investments by simultaneously increasing energy efficiency and fire safety.
- It is crucial to minimise potential fire risks when choosing technologies or materials to increase buildings energy efficiency.
- Further research is required under Horizon Europe to assess and prevent the potential fire risks associated with green buildings materials, technologies and systems.
In 2018, Fire Safe Europe urged the European Parliament to include fire safety in the Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which the European Parliament did by inserting fire safety in two articles encouraging the Member States to consider fire safety in their long-term renovation strategies or in buildings undergoing major renovations. These advances should be safeguarded and furthered in the 2021 Revision.
In line with its efforts to get fire safety included in the 2018 EPBD, Fire Safe Europe liaised with the Members of the European Parliament working on the Own-Initiative report “Maximising the energy efficiency potential of the EU building stock” to ensure the inclusion of fire safety. We believe the mention of fire safety in paragraph 45 and 46 of the final text is a step in the right direction.
“46. Recalls that fire safety aspects should be considered during the design, selection of materials, construction, renovation and operation of buildings in order to improve prevention, detection, early suppression, evacuation, compartmentation, structural resistance and fire-fighting, as well as the relevant competencies of professionals involved during design, construction and renovation”.
Fire Safe Europe is also convinced that the revisions of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive (EPBD) should be included fire safety considerations.