PhD, Managing director
was invited by a group of civil servants engaged in the update of the current
Dutch EPB regulation based of the expected EPBD revision. My contact person
asked me, beforehand, to focus my presentation on health and comfort of
building occupants in nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEBs).
my presentation saying: ‘I’m worried about this and I truly believe that it is
high time that you start worrying about this too.’ That maybe wasn’t what they
wanted to hear, but they asked for my honest and professional opinion which I
was happy to share.
my worries? Since the Paris Agreement, everybody seems to be interested in
nothing but the energy performance of both existing and new buildings. I do see
the need to fight global warming and drastically cut back on CO2 emissions. There
is no time to lose. However, during the last couple of years I have seen (and
investigated) a lot of transformed and new buildings, (re)designed with an
energy agenda that had unwanted and serious side effects.
some problems that I have come upon in class A (A+) energy performing
dwellings, schools and offices include: overheating in summer, underventilation
in winter, severely limited daylight penetration, too noisy HVAC systems and overcomplicated
climate controls. An issue is, as we
know, that the suboptimal Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) will affect the
wellbeing and productivity of building occupants.
REHVA is aware of the need to look beyond just energy performance improvement. In
a previous issue of REHVA Journal, we presented the REHVA position paper on the
European Commission proposal of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings
Directive (EPBD). See: http://www.rehva.eu/fileadmin/Publications_and_resources/Position_papers/EPBD_proposal_REHVA_position.pdf
In this position paper, the recommendation No. 1 was: ‘Ensure high indoor environmental quality and energy
efficiency at the same time’.
recommendation is in line with the thoughts behind the original political
document, the 2010 EPB Directive. That document states that measures designed to
improve the energy performance of (new or existing) buildings should consider
indoor climate conditions in order to avoid possible negative effects ‘such as inadequate
ventilation’. It, furthermore, states that aspects like indoor air quality,
adequate natural light and shading should be taken into account when
(re)designing energy-efficient buildings.
news is that countries that want to ensure that the Indoor Environmental
Quality of our future nearly Zero Energy Buildings is adequate can now find examples
of IEQ performance criteria in FprEN 16798-1 (the
upgraded version of EN 15251). This CEN standard presents requirements that can
be used when one wants to avoid problems with overheating, underventilation,
installation noise, etc.
articles in this special issue of REHVA Journal support the hypothesis that the
health and comfort performance of buildings is as important as the energy
performance. Authors from South-America, China and India explain that aspects
like fine particle exposure, personal control options and sensor technology
aimed at local IEQ improvement should be addressed too.
I ended my
presentation with the Dutch EPBD recast group saying that, in my opinion, we
should start to systematically create buildings that are both healthy and energy efficient. It’s a real risk to keep focusing only on
energy performance. ‘Instead let’s create HEAlthy Nearly
Zero Energy Buildings (I use the abbreviation HEA for HEALTH here, in line with
the BREEAM certification scheme). What we need is not nZEBs