Investors call for legally-binding, zero-energy building standards

A group of climate investors have urged the European Union to create and implement a binding, long-term target that re-shapes energy frameworks and pushes building sectors across the continent towards a near-zero energy standard by 2050.

Responding to the ongoing proposals to overhaul EU directives on energy efficiency and performance in buildings, the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) has today (11 March) called for legally binding targets to be introduced that would see non-compliant providers stripped of accreditation if their buildings fail to meet near-zero energy standards.

IIGCC’s property working group chair, Tatiana Bosteels said: “The revision of these two EU Directives offers a vital opportunity to reshape the EU’s energy efficiency framework in ways that will ensure it drives radical improvements in the energy efficiency performance of Europe’s existing building stock.

“IIGCC members active in the property sector believe that ‘continuous improvement’ should be applied to energy efficiency efforts in the building sector and – to support that shift – that energy performance certificates should be transformed from a static into a dynamic tool that measures both design and operational performance and allows continuous monitoring and corresponding action.”

The group has launched the Transforming the Sustainability of Europe’s building stock paper, which details the revisions they would like to see introduced into the directives.

The paper claims that while the EU looks set to narrowly achieve its 2020 target of improve efficiency by 20% against 1990 levels – an annual rise of 1.5% is needed – a new dynamic is required to reach new goals for 2030 and beyond.

With less than 2% of European buildings replaced every year, the IIGCC has called on the directives to champion renovation and refurbishment – a feat that will only be achievable if Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are revamped.

Currently EPCs are required when building or selling properties and are valid for 10 years once obtained. They document information on energy use and costs and provide recommendations on improvements.

The IIGCC has called for this level of ‘static’ accreditation to be replaced with a dynamic model that ensures that energy performance in buildings is scaled-up over time. Any providers who fail to achieve improvements in line with EU wide targets would then be stripped of their EPC.

The IIGCC has also requested that EPCs are updated to cover both the design performance and the operational performance of buildings, while also introducing an electronic ‘rate and display’ version of the certificate to create an ‘electronic building passport’.

Future proofing

A recent study from the World Green Building Council has stated that the number of companies that have more than 60% of their building projects certified ‘green’ is expected to more than double over the next two years.

To accelerate this growth, Green Building Councils from 13 countries have agreed to renovate existing buildings which currently account for more than one third of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, as part of the world’s largest collaborative project on existing buildings.

The EU could turn to the US when looking for innovative inspiration. Tesla battery packs will be used to part-power 24 office buildings in California, which will reduce peak grid energy consumption across the offices by 25%.

Transforming the sustainability of Europe’s building stock

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Matt Mace

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