With rising energy prices and international efforts to tackle climate change, improving the energy efficiency of homes is increasingly important across Europe. Energy use in homes makes up a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Europe  and the EU has committed to a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels . Further, 9.8% of households in Europe cannot afford to heat their home adequately .
It is recognised that improving energy efficiency of apartments is difficult, as outlined below, but with 43% of the European population living in them  it is essential to find solutions.
Why are apartment blocks difficult to retrofit?
- In some countries such as the UK, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are only produced for individual apartments and not for the whole building, meaning that a whole-building approach cannot be taken.
- Further, communal areas are not always included within EPC assessments. This means that recommendations regarding lighting and stairwell insulation would not be included in the EPC.
- For communal improvement measures, it can be very difficult and time-consuming to reach agreement between different owners in a block. Even identifying the owners is not always straightforward.
- Legal agreements regarding communal measures can be complex to negotiate.
- Many apartment blocks are historic buildings and are protected under Planning legislation. Retrofit options may therefore be limited.
- As with all domestic properties, households face numerous other barriers such as a lack of finance or information on measures.
Overall, these issues mean that retrofitting apartment blocks is a lot more complex than other domestic buildings. This highlights a need to improve the effectiveness of EPCs in these situations and to provide a support framework for owners wishing to go through the process.
 Along with a 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy contribution to 20%. Source: European Commission
 EU Fuel Poverty Network (2013). This refers to the 27 EU member states.
 Source: Eurostat, European Union, 2011