BRUSSELS, March 14 (Reuters) – Buildings across Europe could be renovated to cut emissions and save energy after the European Parliament on Tuesday approved a bill that aims to lower households’ energy bills and wean EU countries off Russian gas faster.

Buildings account for roughly 40% of the European Union’s energy use, and most are heated by fossil fuels. The proposed new rules could require millions of buildings to be upgraded using methods such as insulation or efficient heating systems.

“Soaring energy prices have put the focus on energy efficiency and energy saving measures. Improving the performance of Europe’s buildings will reduce bills and our dependence on energy imports,” said Ciaran Cuffe, lead lawmaker on the rules.

Out of 637 lawmakers present, 343 were in favor of the new rules which would require all EU buildings with a G energy performance certificate – representing the worst-performing 15% per country – and the next-worst F rating to be renovated this decade.

EU countries would need to renovate non-residential buildings to an E grade by 2027, and D by 2030. Residential buildings would follow later deadlines of E by 2030 and D by 2033.

The final law will now be negotiated with EU countries.

Some countries have shown resistance against the law, including Italy, which wants to delay and offer exemptions to renovations it says neither the government nor homeowners can afford.

In response to Tuesday’s vote, Italy’s energy minister Gilberto Pichetto said that his country would negotiate for a law that recognizes the Italian objectives, calling the law “unsatisfactory for Italy”.

As it stands, the law already comes with some exceptions with monuments being excluded from the new rules as well as public social housing if renovations would lead to rents increasing higher than the savings on energy bills.

Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout, Kate Abnett; Aditional reporting by Guiseppe Fonte from Rome; Editing by Alison Williams

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By Chiki