In the proposed revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), it was introduced the “Energy Efficiency First” (EE1st) principle (Article 3), requiring its mandatory application in planning and investment decisions. In 28 September the EC published guidelines targeting mainly policy makers intending to give more insights into the taken actions when applying the EE1st principle. It is an overarching principle that should be taken into account across all sectors, going beyond the energy system, at all levels, including the financial sector.

For the building sector, among other, the guidelines provide examples of measures to undertake towards a more efficient building stock. One of them is the recommendation on linking financing to the implementation of the Smart Readiness Indicator and achieved energy savings. It also recommends making climate control appliances (A/C, heating, cooling) an element of technical design, including technical expertise for the most suitable heating/cooling technologies based on buildings’ features (insulation, orientation etc.). These measures also recommend the use of Energy Performance Contracts to ensure guaranteed, measurable and predictable energy efficiency gains, complemented by continuous monitoring, analysis and reporting of energy efficiency in buildings. Last but not least, the guidelines stress the importance of a holistic lifecycle approach on building design, benefitting from circularity to reduce whole life cycle carbon emissions.

In relation to healthy buildings and indoor air quality (IAQ), the guidelines consider “health and well-being” as the most important co-benefit of energy efficiency, suggesting that ventilation should be well considered to ensure good IAQ. Most importantly, it recommends a switch of the quantification of the benefits that derive from improved indoor air quality into economic terms instead of current quantification indicators such as morbidity rate, hospitalization days etc.

On the energy supply side and aligned with the principles of the energy system integration, it recommends on setting requirements for a cost-benefit analysis on regional power generation planning, which includes also cogeneration units and waste heat recovery. In case of district heating networks, it recommends the reuse of waste heat and its integration into the network. Depending on the context, demand side solutions could complement or replace supply side investments, mentioning also the introduction of new components, for instance heat recovery compressors etc. (waste heat recovery is not considered as renewable in the EED).

This Guidance is the first step in promoting and operationalising the EE1st principle and its main purpose is to apply this principle beyond the energy sector (e.g. transport, ICT etc.) where energy efficiency measures are not in the core of policy considerations, but where energy savings are needed to achieve the GHG emissions reduction targets. By 2023, EC will formulate recommendations that promote the EE1st principle in the financial sector, for financing and investment decisions. This work will be coordinated by a working group under  Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) that will be announced together with the official presentation of the recommendations in an event organised by the EC in the afternoon of 28 September (click here to see the agenda).

Download the full recommendation report

Read the EED revision briefing at REHVA Knowledge Hub

Read the Circular Economy section at REHVA Knowledge Hub

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