EU’s Policy on Efficient Buildings and Green Energy
The challenges of transforming Europe’s energy system remain urgent and daunting: the EU currently imports approximately 55% of its energy – and might reach 70% in the next 20 to 30 years. In 2030 the EU will be importing 84% of its gas, 59% of its coal and 94% of its oil. In these circumstances, it is obvious that the challenge to satisfy our energy needs is big.
Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, they paly therefore, a key role in the EU’s energy security plan.
Europe 2020 strategy is the European Union’s ten-year jobs and growth strategy. It was launched in 2010 to create the conditions for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is based on five headline targets that the EU should achieve by the end of 2020. These cover employment, research and development, climate and energy, education, social inclusion and poverty reduction.
The climate change and energy sustainability target of the Europe 2020 strategy directly refers to the 2020 Energy and Climate package, approved in 2009, that is a set of binding legislation to enable the EU to meet its climate and energy targets for the year 2020. The package sets three key targets:
- 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)
- 20% of EU energy from renewables
- 20% improvement in energy efficiency.
The targets were set by EU leaders in 2007 and enacted in legislation starting from 2009, by means of three major Directives:
- Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (RES)
- Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD)
- Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency (EE).
Each Member State had to set a series of national targets both in terms of renewable energy sources and in terms of energy efficiency. The first are resumed in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs), whereas the seconds are resumed in the National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs), including energy performance on buildings.
NEEAPs set out estimated energy consumption, planned energy efficiency measures and the improvements individual EU countries expect to achieve. Under the Energy Efficiency Directive, EU countries must draw up these plans every three years, and must report the progress achieved towards their national energy efficiency targets on an annual basis.
Directive 2009/28/EC – RES
According to the EU Directive 2009/28/EC the renewable energies are: wind, solar, aerothermal, geothermal, hydrothermal and ocean energy, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases. Passive solar and energy efficiency are not included to avoid double counting.
The general binding target set for EU overall, is to cover at least 20% of final energy consumption by 2020 adopting renewable energy sources. In particular, EU aims to cover by means of renewable energy sources:
- 21% of its final energy use in the heating and cooling sector
- 10% of its final energy uses in the transport sector
- 34% of its final electric energy use.
However, EU recognises that individual EU countries have different available resources and their own unique energy markets. This means that they will have to follow distinctive paths when it comes to meeting their obligations under the Renewable Energy Directive, including their legally binding 2020 targets.
In 2013, the combined EU share of renewable energy reached 15%, which is above the trajectory for the EU as a whole. 26 Member States met their first interim target and they are expected to meet their future target. Some have already reached their 2020 targets. Decrease in the overall energy consumption in recent years has helped several Member States to advance in their RES share. The good overall result is not surprising, given that the interim targets are less ambitious in the early years; however, the trajectory for later years becomes much steeper.
Directive 2010/31/EU – EPBD
Under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive:
- Energy performance certificates are to be included in all advertisements for the sale or rental of buildings
- EU countries must establish inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems or put in place measures with equivalent effect
- All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by 31 December 2020 (public buildings by 31 December 2018)
- EU countries must set minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for the major renovation of buildings and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements (heating and cooling systems, roofs, walls, etc.)
- EU countries have to draw up lists of national financial measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
In particular, Member States have calculated their cost‐optimal levels of minimum energy performance requirements using a comparative methodology framework and relevant parameters, such as climatic conditions and the practical accessibility of energy infrastructure. The cost‐optimal level is defined in the article 2.14 of the EPBD as “the energy performance level which leads to the lowest cost during the estimated economic lifecycle” from two different perspectives: financial (looking at the investment itself at the building level) and macro-economic (looking at the costs and benefits of energy efficiency for society as a whole).
The 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive establishes a set of binding measures to help the EU reach its 20% energy efficiency target by 2020. Under the Directive, all EU countries are required to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain from its production to its final consumption. Concerning buildings, under the Energy Efficiency Directive:
- EU countries make energy efficient renovations to at least 3% of buildings owned and occupied by central government
- EU governments should only purchase buildings which are highly energy efficient
- EU countries must draw-up long-term national building renovation strategies, which can be included in their National Energy Efficiency Action Plans.
EU countries drawn up strategies to show how they plan to foster investment into the renovation of residential and commercial buildings. These strategies are part of their National Energy Efficiency Action Plans.
Good examples from Member States
The EU funded PassREg Projet, aimed to trigger the successful implementation of nearly zero energy buildings (nZEBs) throughout the EU, using Passive Houses supplied as much as possible by renewable energies. Passive House is now standard in Brussels, 30% of the new build rate in Hanover are Passive Houses, in Tyrol the Passive House rate has increased to 41 % (2013), a variety of new model structures have been developed and implemented in the aspiring regions. In several cities, Passive House + renewables has been be implemented in the SEAPs (Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans) or City development plans (Burgas, Cesena, Antwerp), and specific Passive House regulations have been decided in several cities of Italy and in Portugal in the municipality of Agueda. A variety of beacons have been supported in all regions ranging from single-family houses, kindergartens and schools to entire urban settlements (e.g. Nieuw Zuid in Antwerp, Bahnstadt-Heidelberg in Germany).
Within PassREg, the “progetto Botticelli” is a single family detached house, located in the municipality of Mascalucia (Catania) in the Italian region of Sicily. It follows the requirements of Passivhaus certification method in terms of thermal performance: energy need for space heating lower than 15 kWh/(m2y), energy need for cooling and dehumidification lower than 15 kWh/(m2y), primary energy for all domestic applications (heating, hot water and domestic electricity) lower than 120 kWh/(m2y), and air tightness (n50) lower than 0.6 ach. The high envelope performance is complemented by the local production of renewable energy by means of photovoltaic modules, a solar thermal system and by an EAHE in the mechanical ventilation system. A thick external mineral wool continuous layer, triple glazing windows and great care in construction details, guarantee high thermal insulation and airtightness levels.
RENEW SCHOOL is another EU funded project that aims at retrofitting a great amount of school buildings to highest nearly zero energy buildings (nZEB) standards. It is doing it, by promoting appropriate tools and measures, helping to downsize the energy use significantly as well as creating comfortable conditions for the pupils and teachers.
Exemplary renovation are the Schwanenstadt secondary school and the St. Leonard primary school and kindergarten, both in Austria. They showed that energy retrofits based on prefabricated technologies may be effective and performed in the current market. They also showed the importance of controlled mechanical ventilation in the case of substantial interventions on the building envelope improving the airtightness of buildings.
The Sharing Cities project is a Horizon 2020 Smart Cities Lighthouse project involving London, Milan and Lisbon as leading partners and Warsaw, Burgas and Bordeaux as following cities. By fostering international collaboration between industry and cities, the project seeks to develop affordable, integrated, commercial-scale smart city solutions with a high market potential.
The cities actions concern:
- The deep energy retrofits of public/private residential properties affecting 15,000 people. This includes integration of low-carbon energy sources, physical modernisation, digital controls, and promote policy innovations and citizen/private incentives to save energy.
- Implementing integrated Energy Management System to integrate and optimise energy from all sources in districts (and interface with city-wide system); including demand response measures.
- A portfolio of inter-connected initiatives supporting the shift to low carbon shared mobility solutions.
- Demonstrate smart lighting integrated with other smart service infrastructure (eV charging stations; smart parking; traffic monitoring via sensors; data management, wifi, etc).
- Management of data from a wide range of sources, including sensors, as well as traditional statistics, on the basis of common principles, open technologies and standards.