Retrofitting makes older structures safe and sustainable. By installing better insulation or thicker windows, an owner reduces gas and electricity use, lowers the environmental impact of homes and buildings, and saves money on utility bills.

Retrofitting involves:

  • Insulation in walls, attics and floors to improve heating and cooling
  • Adding energy-efficient LED lightbulbs
  • Replacing old heating and cooling systems
  • Installing low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucets
  • Adding solar panels
  • Adding smart thermostats and other connected devices that turn off heating and lights at certain times
  • Better air filtration and ventilation to ensure healthy breathing
  • Efficient appliances

The European Investment Bank gives loans or grants to retrofit homes and buildings around the European Union. For example, the Bank approved a loan of €20 million in 2022 to make educational buildings in Romania more modern and energy efficient

What is intermediated lending?

Some of this retrofitting is done through intermediated lending. An intermediated loan is given by a big institution, such as the European Investment Bank, to a commercial bank or other financial institution. This other bank acts as an intermediary, using the big loan to offer hundreds of smaller loans to small businesses.

There also are special EU bank programmes that give advice or grants for retrofitting. These include the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) programme and the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas initiative. In County Tipperary, an ELENA grant helped prepare energy audits and feasibility studies for hundreds of residents wishing to retrofit their homes to increase energy efficiency.

What is a zero-energy building?

Besides retrofitting old structures, we must make new buildings energy efficient. Zero-energy buildings use a low amount of electricity or gas, with a preference for renewable sources produced nearby or on-site, and they have no on-site carbon emissions. The European Union’s goal is for all new buildings to be near-zero energy.