Greener housing and the role of banks

Stay up to date with the latest measures from the financial sector

3 min Reading time

In order to better identify green loans, a label was launched in mid-February 2021, resulting from the "Energy Efficient Mortgages" initiative, a project that brings together several European banks and in which Belgium played a leading role.


We interviewed Elisabeth Minjauw to know more about the subject. She is actively involved in this initiative as a representative of Febelfin at the European Mortgage Federation, where she is chair until the end of 2022. Minjauw is also responsible for the implementation of sustainability themes within the credit department of BNP Paribas Fortis and is the point of contact at group level for issues around energy-efficient lending.


What exactly is the Energy Efficient Mortgages Initiative (EEMI)?

The European Mortgage Federation has launched this initiative with various stakeholders, including the European Commission, to define what constitutes a green mortgage loan: i.e. a credit that is energy efficient. It also aims to make us think about how this energy-efficient credit can be brought more to the attention. The banking sector can take concrete action in this area and encourage the transition to energy-efficient renovations or construction.

How can banks promote energy efficiency?

When one starts the process of buying a property, banks come in the picture. Their role here is primarily awareness-raising. Homes with a low energy performance are responsible for 20% of the CO2 emissions in Belgium. Banks can therefore make their customers aware of the fact that these properties have a major impact on the environment and can advise them on this.

In addition, banks can also point out to their customers that a property with a higher EPC score is more valuable than a similar property with a lower EPC score. After all, a study by the KULeuven shows that houses with good energy performance are sold for 10.6% more. More and more we see the importance of energy efficiency in determining the value of a property.

The EEMI recently launched a label called "Energy Efficient Mortgage Label", what is its purpose?

Indeed, a quality label was launched on February 12, 2021. Its main objective is to identify energy-efficient mortgage loans in the portfolios of credit institutions. The purpose of these loans is to finance the purchase, construction or renovation of real estate, subject to conditions. For example, new buildings must have energy performance that meets current European standards. Regarding renovations, energy efficiency should be improved by at least 30%.

What are the benefits of this label for the consumer?

Consumers will be able to check in full openness why a mortgage is a green loan and they will be able to be sure that it meets certain defined criteria. Banks that decide to be certified commit themselves to achieving the objectives described in the label.

In general, consumers who choose energy-efficient mortgages will enjoy benefits that will vary from bank to bank. This may concern, for example, favorable interest rates, a more favorable weighting of equity, etc. Finally, these customers will contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in Belgium and thus make a positive contribution to the climate.

How do you see the evolution of this label?

The cooperation with the European institutions will ensure that the label becomes a real market reference and is used by as many credit institutions as possible. The label will serve as a benchmark for a whole range of green lending parameters. In short, it can be a quality guarantee that shows that the banks are committed to a successful energy transition.