EPBD revision safeguards directive against Brexit

The latest upgrading of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) was agreed last month.

Because of this timing, the new text will automatically apply in the UK even should Brexit proceed on the planned timetable.

Effectively, it requires all European countries to put in place ambitious renovation strategies that will ensure that the entire building stock is upgraded to produce “nearly zero emissions” by 2050.

National plans will have to include milestones for 2030 and 2040 and define “measurable progress indicators” such as renovation rates or a cap on energy consumption per square metre. Actual measures will remain up to national governments.

“Increasing energy efficiency is a no-brainer: it is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of reducing our energy consumption and contributing to our climate goals,” said Kadri Simson, Economic Affairs Minister of Estonia, who held the EU Presidency representing all current 28 EU member states.

Another flagship reform relates to electro-mobility, with a minimum EU requirement for buildings with more than ten parking spaces to install at least one recharging point, and ducting infrastructure for at least one in every five parking spaces.

Bendt Bendtsen, the Conservative MEP who led the negotiations on behalf of an assertive European Parliament, expressed delight about the outcome. He said the revised EPBD will “take an important step to ensure that our buildings contribute to a decarbonised and energy-efficient economy – to the benefit of both the climate and the wallets of European citizens and businesses.

“We will also provide some much needed investor certainty by long-term planning, and make use of all available tools for energy improvements – from financing support to building automation and inspections,” the Danish MEP added.

The European Commission will establish a voluntary “Smart Readiness Indicator” assessing the capacity of buildings to adapt to the needs of its occupants – like automation systems for lighting or heating. But buildings will be required to be equipped with automation and control systems by 2025 “only when considered technically and economically feasible.”

The revised EPBD also sets up voluntary energy performance databases where national governments can file data collected through energy performance certificates.

One of the biggest failures of the directive to date has related to building inspections. Now, such inspections of heating and air conditioning systems will be simplified and that member states will be sole competent to decide on the appropriate inspection measures and their frequency. But a uniform threshold for all inspections is agreed, at 70kW.

In addition, a feasibility study on introducing inspections for stand-alone ventilation systems is due. In order to simplify the process of increasing energy efficiency and rationalise the costs of inspections, effective “alternatives” can be put in place, such as advice.

• Negotiations are continuing on proposed improvements to the accompanying Energy Efficiency Directive, which sets overall ambition targets for energy efficiency. In an unprecedented move, (but forecast in EiBI Nov 2017) the European Parliament has fired its lead negotiator, Pole Adam Gierek and replaced him with a fellow Socialist, the Czech MEP Miroslav Poche.

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