|  Ramzi Chamat

Revision of the energy law: A step towards sustainability or an unrealistic challenge ?

In a bold initiative, the State Council of Vaud proposes a significant revision of the cantonal energy law. This revision requires the renovation of energy-inefficient buildings, specifically those rated G and F according to the Cantonal Building Energy Certificate (CECB). These buildings must be improved within 10 to 15 years. The Swiss Real Estate Professionals Union (USPI) Vaud welcomes this initiative, recognizing the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, USPI raises concerns about the technical, financial, and temporal feasibility of these extensive renovations.




Climate change remains a global concern, and Swiss regions are no exception. Recently, the State Council of the Canton of Vaud initiated a consultation on the revision of the cantonal energy law, sparking a spirited debate within society. This revision includes a contentious provision: the obligation to renovate all energy-consuming buildings, classified as class G and F in the Building Energy Certificate (CECB), within a period of 10 to 15 years from the law's entry into force. This measure has received support from the Union of Swiss Real Estate Professionals (USPI) Vaud, but it also raises crucial questions regarding feasibility, cost, and its impact on property owners, tenants, and society as a whole.



I. USPI Vaud Advocates for Energy Renovation


USPI Vaud, as a major player in the real estate sector, stands in favor of energy renovation of buildings. Despite significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in Switzerland (a 34% decrease compared to 1990), it is imperative to continue efforts to achieve climate goals. Reducing CO2 emissions is a collective responsibility, and everyone must participate, whether property owners, public authorities, or tenants, while equitably sharing the costs.



II. Significant Practical Challenges


However, while energy renovation of buildings is a commendable goal, its implementation raises numerous questions. The obligation to renovate 39,000 energy-consuming buildings in the Canton of Vaud, approximately 2,600 permits per year for fifteen years, poses a considerable logistical challenge. Managing this volume of permits, opposition and appeal procedures, and the shortage of qualified labor are practical challenges that must be addressed.



III. Financing as a Crucial Issue


The financing of renovation work is also a major concern. Despite some exemptions provided, the draft revision of the law does not comprehensively address this issue. Subsidies are limited to 120 million Swiss francs per year, while the overall cost of renovation work and the replacement of fossil fuel-based heating systems could reach several billion Swiss francs.



IV. Toward Incentive-Based and Realistic Measures


Instead of adhering strictly to an obligation, USPI Vaud advocates for more significant incentive-based measures. This could include a substantial increase in subsidies, attractive tax benefits, and the establishment of goal-oriented agreements with property owners. These agreements would take into account the specific financial situation of each owner while setting realistic CO2 emission reduction goals, considering the building's emissions.





In summary, the revision of the cantonal energy law in Vaud raises critical questions about how Swiss society will address the energy transition and the fight against climate change. Striking a balance between the need to reduce CO2 emissions and preserving the economic viability of renovations remains at the heart of the debate. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to find balanced solutions that enable the achievement of climate goals without jeopardizing the economic stability of the region. The path toward a more sustainable energy future requires thoughtful consideration, pragmatic measures, and ongoing cooperation.

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