Thermal renovation of housing: craftsmen want administrative simplification

Today, the thermal renovation of housing is faced with a paradox. On the one hand, there is a growing demand for renovation work to tackle the energy crisis and adapt rapidly to climate change. In response, the government has introduced the Renov bonus, a scheme to support thermal renovation of buildings, which should reach 2.5 billion euros by 2023. On the other hand, there are not enough craftsmen with the RGE label required for their customers to obtain the Renov bonus, due to increasingly onerous administrative constraints. The building and civil engineering sector is calling for simplifications to ease the administrative burden.

What are the current constraints of the RGE label?

Since January 1, 2021, the RGE (Reconnu garant pour l'environnement) label has undergone reform. It now includes 17 different areas of expertise, compared with 12 previously. While this extension can be explained by the presence of sector-specific rules of the art, the fact remains that it entails more controls, and therefore additional costs and red tape for craftsmen.

As a result, only 58,000 of the 560,000 building contractors in France involved in thermal renovation have the RGE label.


What's more, these companies, which have played a major role in the development of post-COVID activity, are now faced with sudden rises in energy costs and supply difficulties for both materials and equipment.

What are the craftsmen asking for?

In the wake of the Assises du bâtiment held last September, Jean-Christophe Repon, President of CAPEB (Confédération de l'artisanat et des petites entreprises du bâtiment) sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, on November 25, 2022, to "draw her attention to the willingness and ability of craft building companies to actively contribute to the sector's environmental transition" and submit a number of proposals.


Among these, the simplification of the RGE qualification is at the top of the list. Combined with a trial of "site-by-site qualification" for craftsmen not yet RGE-qualified, this would increase the number of companies able to work in the field of energy renovation by around 30%.

The President of the CAPEB concludes his letter by stressing the need to "ensure that the provisions governing CEE [Certificats d'Economie d'Energie] and RGE [Qualification d'Economie d'Energie] do not penalize very small businesses".