EC plans to make new and existing buildings more energy efficient

The European Commission has proposed a new law making energy savings of 22% by 2010, in a sector responsible for around 40% of the EU’s energy consumption through heating, hot water, cooling and lighting heating.

The new draft directive was proposed on 25 April in help lower greenhouse gas emissions in line with Kyoto commitments, which many European Union nations are falling behind on (see preceding story). A recent EC Green Paper Towards a European Strategy for Energy Supply warned that if measures are not taken, the Union’s energy import dependence will rise to 70% in 2030, compared to 50% today. The energy sector itself is responsible for 94% of CO2 emissions in the Union.

To intensify the proposed Directive provides for a legislative framework which the EC says will enable energy savings of 22% by 2010 and will increase co-ordination between the 15 member states. The main proposals in the Directive are:

  • minimum energy performance standards to be adopted by member states for each building type, taking into account climatic differences and integrating insulation, heating, ventilation, lighting, orientation of the building, heat recovery, and renewable energy sources;
  • application and regular updating of minimum standards based on this methodology for new buildings and also for existing buildings of over 1,500 square metres when renovated;
  • certification schemes for new and existing buildings. Energy performance certificates, including advice on how to improve energy performance, will be available for all buildings when they are constructed, sold or rented out. These certificates, together with information on recommended and actual indoor temperatures, will also be displayed in public buildings and other kinds of buildings frequented by the public;
  • specific inspection and assessment of heating and cooling installations by qualified personnel.

Last year, the UK introduced regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from new and existing homes as the nation’s buildings produce between a third and a half of the total national CO2 emissions, compared to a European average of one fifth.

“The European Commission has decided to put forward legislative measures to ensure that improvements are made in energy performance in buildings to the benefit of all: better protection of our environment, increased security of energy supply and lower energy bills,” commented Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President in charge of Energy and Transport.

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