European Union launches best practice ‘library’ for energy efficiency measures

A new European Union (EU) project aimed at sharing best practice for energy efficiency measures across all sectors has raised concerns over the UK's ability to collaborate with other countries in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

The EU-MERCI project is a Europe-wide effort to create an industrial best practice database, in order to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency standards. It will take the form of a library of projects, procedures, methods and tools, based on the analysis of thousands of implemented projects, produced by the Carbon Trust and ten other NGO partners from a variety of European countries.

It is hoped the insight generated by the endeavour will enable industry professionals to gain answers to questions on sustainability practice, including what the most effective actions are to improve efficiency in particular sectors, what the most promising technologies are for future development and what the associated costs and savings of improving energy efficiency in specific ways are.

The project is scheduled for completion in February 2017, creating the likely scenario that the UK will still be in the EU when it is launched. However the UK’s ability to access this new library of best practice initiatives could depend on whether it chooses to stay in the single market as part of the European Economic Area (EEA).

EU-MERCI is backed by funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework’s €80bn pot, which has the stated purpose of accelerating research, technological development and innovation. A decision to leave the single market would likely restrict the UK’s access to this funding stream.

Building blocks

The Horizon 2020 scheme also has precedence in UK policy. In February this year the UK established a new online platform stimulating innovation and informing construction companies of best practice when it comes to developing greener buildings. Although this came after it emerged that the government had scrapped environmental regulations for new residential buildings in order to stimulate housing construction.

The UK’s online platform nevertheless provides an excellent building block for the planned “world’s largest retrofit project”, which spans across 13 EU countries.

Britain’s potential exit from the EU has created uncertainty regarding the UK’s environmental standing with the rest of Europe, with recycling and air quality standards already cited as areas of concern.

The Energy and Climate Change Commission recently launched an inquiry into the potential ramifications of Brexit on UK climate policy, with findings that pinpointed low-carbon heat and Carbon Capture Storage technologies as areas of most concern. This recent announcement of the pan-industrial energy efficiency database, which the Carbon Trust is playing a crucial role in implementing, provides a ray of hope for Brexit outlooks.

Cameron Joshi

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