The Belgian construction industry would need to carry out 135,000 renovations to existing buildings every year for the country to be able to meet the climate targets for 2030, according to the Construction Confederation.
That would be equivalent to 15 renovations being completed every hour.
The construction sector saw an economic downturn last year of 3.8% as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. For this year, the Confederation forecasts a recovery of 5%, largely as a result of the EU’s recovery programme, as well as major infrastructure works like the Oosterweel project in Antwerp.
The construction of new-build homes dropped off last year by 8%, and will only recover 3% this year. But there are brighter prospects for the renovation sector of the industry, thanks to the EU’s climate targets, to which all member states including Belgium are signed up.
The target is, broadly speaking, a reduction of 55% in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030. And one of the most crucial areas in achieving that target are the country’s buildings.
Buildings of all sorts are responsible for 36% of CO2 output, and 40% of energy consumption. Both figures could be reduced by renovations, from installing alternative energy sources to simply insulating.
But the task ahead is a mammoth one.
According to the Confederation again, the work required for Belgium to meet its targets would require 135,000 renovations a year, or 15 every hour from now until 2030.
The Confederation is forecasting limited growth for this year, but managing director Robert de Mûelenaere counselled caution.
“Construction performed better than the general economy last year,” he said.
“But this year our growth will be lower than that of the economy. Order books are still thinner than in 2019 at half of our construction companies.”