European Commission moves to speed up pace of reducing energy consumption in buildings

Published:  30 March, 2011

The European Commission is set to step up the pace of achieving a 20% reduction in the energy consumption of the European Union by 2020 with the adoption of the new ‘Energy efficiency plan’. The target was set in 2007, but according to the commission’s most recent projections, which take into account measures implemented at national and European level up to the end of 2009, a reduction of only 9% will be achieved.

Energy efficiency is seen as a key tool for strengthening Europe’s competitiveness and reducing energy dependence, while decreasing the level of emissions. The proposed measures are aimed at creating substantial savings for households, businesses and public authorities. They are expected to save up to Eu1000 per household per year and create up to two million jobs.

The plan focuses on instruments to trigger renovation in public and private buildings, improve the energy performance of appliances used in them and foster energy efficiency in households and industry. The plan does not cover transport, which is due to be covered in a White Paper on Transport.

For the public sector, the EU proposes a number of binding measures.

The first is the public authorities should refurbish at least 3% of their buildings (by area) each year — roughly double the actual renovation rate. A refurbishment should bring a building up to the level of the best 10% of the national building stock.

When public bodies rent or buy existing buildings, they should be in the best available energy-performance class.

For the private sector, member states are called upon to introduce measures, in line with national property law, to address the problem of split incentives. — how the cost of renovation in rented buildings and apartments are split between tenant and landlord.

Member states are also called on to support the uptake of energy-service companies as catalysts for renovation. Such companies renovate private houses and apartments at their own expense and make profits by receiving the savings in energy costs over a defined period of time.



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