Final version of the EPBD approved

July 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Legislative Outreach | Leave a comment
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Last Wednesday, the representatives of the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers came to an agreement on the final text of the new version of Energy Performance in Buildings Directive. The next step is for the Council to formally adopt the version, but in fact the major decisions were already taken. Our next 10 years are pretty much “shaped” when it comes to energy efficiency in buildings.

The final version is weaker than the version that was successfully voted by the European Parliament in April. We were expecting that the text to be modified in the negotiation process and some compromises to be made, but the final result is more a collection of recommendations than a powerful tool  that could significantly contribute to saving energy in the European buildings in the years to come. For the most advanced countries – were the national legislation and standards are very powerful (eg.  UK – all new buildings – carbon neutral starting from 2016) is not a big loss but for Eastern and Central Europe it is. In this region the national legislations are shaped mostly on the European Directives – if we have a strong Directive we have strong national legislation, if we have a Directive full of recommendations ….sometimes we listen and if we are lucky we look at the other Members States for best practices, we admire and start making a huge list of reasons for why not we cannot implement that measure or that mechanism or why we cannot allocate funds from the public budget …….and the list is long.

I presented briefly below the major changes (pro and cons) brought in by the final text of the EPBD:

Strengths:

  1. Abolition of 1000sqm threshold – all buildings undergoing major renovation, irrespectively of their size will need to comply with the Directive (improve their energy performance)
  2. Minimum energy performance requirements for minor renovations (practically when a building element that is part of the building envelope – windows, door, roofs – is replaced or retrofitted )
  3. All new buildings must be “nearly zero energy buildings” by December 2020; new public buildings have to comply with the standard  by December 2018

Weaknesses:

  1. No obligation for member states to amend the minimum energy performance requirements in their building codes to achieve the result of the Commission methodology. This practically means that there will still be differences between same energy levels (A,B,C..etc) on the energy performance certificates in different countries. The objective of assuring convergence towards higher standards will not be achieved (at least not through this version of the EPBD)
  2. No concrete requirements for Member States to introduce targets to renovate existing buildings according to nearly zero energy buildings. They were not supposed to renovate the whole existing building stocks to this standard, but at least to consider this aspect to a minimum percentage of buildings that are renovated.
  3. No obligation for certifying and displaying the energy performance certificate in case of public buildings, unless they are bigger than 500sqm (the threshold will be lowered to 250 sqm in five years) and visited by the public. However an important number of public buildings will not be included in this category.
  4. Fiscal and financial incentives were introduced only as recommendations and not as obligations. Practically it will be up to each Member State to allocate or not funds from the state budget for putting in place measures to support the implementation of EPBD.
  5. The terms for applying the provisions of the new EPBD were delayed with two years after it comes into force. Practically – if the law will be adopted in 2010 (expected to happen) the Member States are supposed to publish the transposing measures in 2 years after the entry into force.

Next stage already started –  we (RoGBC together with WWF Romania and other representatives of the non-governmental sector) will have to continue our initiatives at the national level and lobby for proper implementation of EPBD and adoption of real measures that will contribute to encouraging the energy efficiency in buildings and promotion of renewable energy production. The new version of EPBD offers some good arguments in the discussions, but it is a weaker tool than what it could have been.

The final text of the directive is available here.

Anca Bieru

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