eceee believes that energy efficiency first means that energy demand should be reduced as far as possible before the remaining energy needs are supplied by renewables. This principle is necessary to secure long-term sustainable building and to save more energy, resources and money. eceee has produced an update technical note on the EPBD Annex I, where these issues are defined.
In spite of much technical work, including work funded by the Commission, and of the extreme urgency of addressing the Climate crisis, the proposals currently on the table for the revision of Annex I of the EPBD are going to produce a regression compared to the 2010 version, by removing the double indicator of performance of buildings and reducing it only to one, primary energy (not better specified in the texts). This is in patent contradiction with the Standard ISO EN 52000-1 produced under Mandate 480 by the EU Commission. In fact, the Standard states: “the use of only one requirement, e.g. the numeric indicator of primary energy use, can be misleading”.
The single indicator choice is also conflicting with the current interests of the major construction sector stakeholders, who are more and more interested in the environmental performance of buildings. Not by chance, the health performance of energy efficient buildings was a core issue of the REHVA Brussels Summit Conference and many articles in this Journal issue focus on ventilation systems and IEQ requirements.
Hartley supporting this quoted statement of eceee, referring to the EN ISO52000 family, it is our European Commission who reminds us that half of the EU’s total energy consumption comes from heating buildings – whether in private homes, commercial or industrial facilities.
However, at political level this Commissions’ statement seems forgotten every time the national ministers of the EU’s 28 Member States meet. Last time EU Council met, the EU Commissioner in charge of climate action, Miguel Arias Cañete, lamented EU Member States’ lack of ambition on energy efficiency.
Cañete’s presence at the talks, the trialogue meeting, held December 5th, is a sign of the growing realisation among policymakers that buildings are the central piece of the puzzle when it comes to decarbonising the energy sector and offer multiple benefits beyond energy savings.
The challenge ahead is colossal. At the current rate of renovation of 1% per year, it would take a century to renovate Europe’s entire building stock, the Commission stresses – well short of what is required to significantly reduce emissions from the sector.
The European Parliament rose up the occasion when it adopted its position on the EPBD, backing the report by Danish MEP Bendt Bendtsen by a large majority. The political debate focusses on long-term renovation plans and inspections for heating and cooling systems; e-mobility and decarbonised building stock by 2025; and transposition and review deadlines.
The European Parliament would like to have clear milestones for 2030, 40 and 50 to decarbonise the building stock. The Council seems to want just indicative milestones to ensure there are no binding commitments. The Council appears reluctant to close a loophole in the draft EPBD which would allow buildings powered by renewable energy sources to be labelled as more energy efficient than others, even when they are poorly insulated and waste huge amounts of heat.
The Parliament closed the loophole by tightening the definition of “near-zero emission buildings” in the annex of the directive, but the Council prefers keeping a vague wording, which makes the Member States less accountable to deliver.
On building automation and control systems (BACs) the EU Parliament wants binding measures introduced for large commercial buildings as of 2023 but EU countries don’t want, claiming it’s too technical. Which is a non-sense excuse if you combine this with reliable commission requirements to be reported regularly. It seems the Council prefers vague terms like ‘alternative measures’, which doesn’t offer the level playing field needed by industry to be able to invest in innovative solutions.
Moreover, by referring to alternative measures do nothing stay’s an option. Perhaps an obligation could be acceptable for large commercial buildings, but be aware that their energy use is relative marginal considering the total existing building stock.
As things stand, the positions of the Parliament and Council are so far apart that a compromise seems out of reach. If the remaining month of December 2017 for the current Estonian Presidency will be used wisely, an acceptable compromise should be possible. Closing this discussion too quickly will have very negative consequences for the building and installation business in the coming 5–10 years. It will also not reflect the European Leadership to deliver on the Paris Agreement.
Quoting Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) “Investments in energy efficiency create essential multiple benefits for our economies, creating local jobs, increasing energy productivity and competitiveness. Energy savings achieved through energy efficiency investments are a chief enabler of sustainable growth and the energy transition”.
[i] The discussion may not be closed yet. This editorial reflects my information dated 11-12-2017.