The Energy Union, launched in February 2015 as one of the EU’s ten priority areas for action, has five mutually reinforcing and closely interrelated areas of focus, one of which looks at whether energy efficiency is contributing to a moderation of demand. The Energy Union strategy identifies improvements to energy efficiency in the building sector as a change that could make a critical contribution to the Commission’s energy and climate strategy. Action will be needed from Member States in order to exploit the energy efficiency potential of existing buildings. As part of the Energy Union, the Commission will also look to simplify access to existing funding, as EU funds and financing from the European Investment Bank can make a significant difference for Member States.
Measures relating to energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy form part of broader initiatives designed to ensure that the EU meets the objectives of its energy and climate change policy. Reducing energy use reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, thus helping to tackle one of the major causes of climate change.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires Member States to set energy performance standards for buildings, to issue buildings with energy performance certificates and to ensure that, by the end of 2020, all new buildings are ‘nearly zero energy’ buildings. The Directive introduced a benchmarking system, the aim of which is to create an incentive for making the energy performance requirements set by national or regional building codes more ambitious, and to ensure that these requirements are reviewed regularly. Member States were required to have most of the measures set out under the Directive in force by January 2013. It has been estimated that the Directive will reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% by 2020.
By managing energy demand, the EU can influence the global energy market and hence the security of energy supply. The Energy Roadmap 2050 shows that improved energy efficiency in new and existing buildings will be critical to managing energy demand over the period 2020-2050. Nearly zero energy buildings should become the norm. Buildings could even produce more energy than they use. Smart technologies such as home automation will give consumers greater influence over their own consumption patterns, and individual buildings and districts will play an active role in local distribution and storage grids.
Although there has been investment in energy efficiency and use of renewable energy in buildings for some decades, the level of investment has not been sufficient. Investment in this area has become strategically important for the EU as a result of the high level of energy imports (the EU imported 55% of the energy used in 2012, at a cost of EUR 400 bn), volatile energy prices, and for reaching the EU target for 2030 of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared with 1990 (which includes the target of a 30% reduction of greenhouse gases in non-ETS sectors). A number of the policies and markets that are central to shaping investment in energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy are still relatively new, and it will take time for their full effect to be felt. As highlighted in the report of the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Groupon investment in energy efficiency in buildings, the policy framework should encourage businesses to invest in energy efficiency at the critical points in their investment cycle, using a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. Reporting, accounting and procurement procedures must facilitate, and not hinder, appropriate investment in energy efficiency in public buildings while also clarifying the regulatory, fiscal and accounting treatment and standardising Energy Performance Contracts.
The Commission plans to bring forward its assessment of the issues discussed above to meet the deadline for evaluation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Addressing these issues is all the more important given the contribution made by buildings both to achieving EU objectives for energy and climate policy and growth, and to improving living standards and reducing energy bills for EU citizens. This consultation exercise will provide an important source of information for the assessment, and will help to ensure that the analysis is robust and comprehensive. This consultation will also serve as a framework for potential further consultation on specific topics such as district energy, retail, building automation and monitoring, building regulations and financing.
The objective of this consultation is to consult stakeholders on the review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and evaluate whether the directive has met its aims. The consultation will also explore issues in relation to the Smart Finance for Smart Buildings initiative and the links of the directive with other energy policy areas. The public consultation launches the review into the directive, which is due by the end of 2016 as required under Article 19 of the directive.
There are twelve sections and we are focussing our feedback in the following areas:
- Whether the requirement for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) is stimulating energy efficient renovation of the building stock?
- Smart Finance for Smart Buildings: What are the barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency in buildings?
- How can the EPBD provide support to ensure new highly efficient buildings using a higher share of renewable energy?
- Are Smart Meters contributing towards meeting energy efficiency targets?
- Should the EPBD require regular inspections of the technical systems for the heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and lighting of a building unit and would this trigger replacement or upgrading if inefficient equipment?
- From a buildings operations perspective, does the EPBD promote the best way to close the gap between designed and actual energy performance of buildings?
The closing date for submission of responses is 2nd September 2015 and we welcome your responses by email to email@example.com or call Melanie Kendall-Reid on 01252 878722 for further discussion.