Go back

France - New energy for a sluggish construction market.

Since the beginning of 2015, it has been possible for French home owners to deduct 30% of their energy renovation costs, provided that the project lives up to certain criteria.

“We are starting to see the first effects in the market and expect the impact to increase”, explains Bernard Plancade, Managing Director of ROCKWOOL France.

The ROCKWOOL Group has traditionally had a strong position in the French insulation market. Following the opening of our first production facility in the central region of Auvergne more than 35 years ago, the presence of stone wool in the insulation market has gradually become more prominent. Today, France is one of the most important markets for the Group.

However, as for many other players in the French building industry, last year was a difficult one. The general economy was being challenged, with consumer confidence falling and investments in both new and existing buildings declining. The amount of new construction in France reached its lowest level since the 2nd World War when compared to the number of inhabitants.

Triple benefits of energy renovation.

There is thankfully some light at the end of the tunnel, especially for the insulation industry. An important factor to stimulate construction is the government’s active promotion of the energy renovation of buildings as a means to harvest the triple benefit of lower energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions and more jobs.

One of the criteria for access to the government’s public support programme is that all tradesmen and contractors must be properly trained in energy efficiency renovation and be awarded special certification. This should ensure the quality of the renovation work and therefore the actual energy savings.

“While this might be a bit of a bottleneck until a sufficient number of tradespeople have been certified, we see it as a very positive initiative to develop the energy renovation market,” Bernard Plancade says. “Our brand has always been associated with quality in the French market, so it goes hand in hand with our own ambitions and we’re actively engaged in educating and certifying contractors and installers.”

Looking towards 2050

The tax benefit system is just one part of a wider national programme to promote a greener society. Known as the Transition énergétiqu (a French equivalent to the German Energiwende), the aim is to halve energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions by a factor 4 by 2050, bring down the share of nuclear power in the energy mix and increase the amount of renewables.

Reducing the amount of energy consumed in buildings is key as it accounts for 43% of all French energy. A number of highly important initiatives were recently voted through the French parliament. The next step is to put distinct plans in place to ensure that the goals are met. These include measures such as:

  • 500,000 buildings to be renovated by 2017, of which 380,000 will be energy renovations.

  • Introduction of Energy Efficiency passport for buildings.

  • Obligatory renovation of high consuming buildings (more than 330 kwh/m2/year) from 2025.

  • Obligatory upgrading of energy efficiency when major renovations of facades and roofs are taking place.

Optimism for the future

The focus on energy efficiency has been a prominent political feature for several years, regardless of the colour of the government. So ROCKWOOL France is optimistic when taking the long view:

“We expect that the emphasis on energy efficiency will stimulate our business opportunities, so that we can continue to outperform the general construction market,” Bernard Plancade ends.