EU Reaches Agreement On Energy Savings In Buildings

The long awaited consensus regarding new builds has finally been
adopted by the EU this week, confirming that new buildings would have
to comply with energy efficient standards and draw a substantial part
of their energy needs from renewable sources after the end of 2020.

The public sector is first targeted by the Energy Performance of
Buildings Directive, and is obliged to own/rent out buildings that
abide by the "nearly 0" energy standards before the end of 2018. The
private sector is granted an extra two years for the application of
those standards.

Furthermore, EU member states were entrusted with the mission to
promote the conversion of existing buildings so as they are compliant
with the energy efficiency standards set.

Sweden has been a major activist in the decision by pressing for a
deal on this energy efficiency legislation, well aware that the
building sector is responsible for 30% of the EU's carbon emissions,
and that major energy efficiency improvements are urgently needed.

Due to the variation of local conditions from one EU nation to
another, each state is empowered to define its own standards.

Concerning existing buildings, no concrete standards were applied,
which has lead to a sense of disappointment for environmentalists. The
text just requires that any renovations must enhance energy savings,
should that be technically, logistically and financially possible.

Owners will have to be encouraged by national plans, developed by each
member state, to implement smart metering devices, heating and cooling
systems, and other energy efficient installations such as lighting.

A general sense of contentment emanated from the Parliament and
Council negotiators, seemingly relieved with the conclusion of a long
progress, which will allow member states to implement sustainable
choices without undergoing an administrative overload.

The legislation will however already have a positive impact in
steering citizens towards more energy efficient solutions.

Building owners and developers will have incentive to invest in
efficiency measures during renovations with an energy performance
certificate scheme put in place.

Selling or renting out a building to a new tenant will entail the
issue of a certificate mentioning the building's energy performance
level, as well as recommendations on how to improve it.

This certificate will need to be displayed in buildings with more than
500m2 (250m2 in 5 years time, when the legislation is enforced),
occupied by a public authority, and regularly visited by the general

The European Commission will create a voluntary EU-wide system for
non-residential buildings by 2011, and in the meantime, member states
have been invited to set up their own certification schemes.

As funding is the most influential factor affecting the implementation
of energy efficient strategies, an article was added to the text of
law regarding financial aids, on both national and EU levels.

This text supplement requires member states to generate opportunities
through technical assistance and low interest rates on loans by mid
2011, for the transition to near-0 buildings.

This new initiative is expected to boost the EU's green credentials
for climate negotiations at the Copenhagen conference next month,
aiming for a successor to the '97 Kyoto Protocol.

Thursday 26th November 2009

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