Panorama Europe 2010

Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and Council, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), lays down requirements on:

These requirements were be implemented by the 25 EU Member States.  The deadline for implementation was January 4, 2006. Only for the 2 last requirements (certifications and inspections), Member States were allowed, because of lack of qualified and/or accredited experts, to have an additional period of three years (before January 2009) to apply fully.

Within these general principles and objectives, each EU Member State has the responsibility to choose measures that correspond best to its particular situation (subsidiarity principle).  Major work efforts have been conducted under the energy and transport directorate of the European Commission to develop harmonized methods for implementation of the EPBD.  Governments are sensitive to accusations of making implementation of European Directives too complex, but there is validity to the concern that a minimum implementation of the EPBD might be more disruptive than a well-integrated one.

Several new energy standards have been or are under development in support of the EPBD.  The European Portal for Energy Efficiency in Buildings is intended to support all building efficiency efforts in Europe.  Current information (March 2010) on the standards supporting the EPBD is available on this website.

The EPBD is currently being adjusted in light of experience. The European Commission proposed amendments that will require additional developments to be fully implemented, some possibly not till 2011, and then Member States will have 2–3 years for their adoption and implementation.

A new organization, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe, has recently been started.   From the BPIE website, “The Institute will act both as a centre of expertise on all aspects of energy efficiency and energy performance in European buildings and as the European centre for a global Best Practice Network on energy efficiency in buildings.”

While Europe has an advantage in having legislation that directs energy efficiency in buildings, the methods needed still have a way to go.   Europe remains overly distracted by sutainability topics and the push for expensive renewable energy.   Energy goals remain elusive, as the distraction of “zero energy” becomes a goal in itself, however unattainable.

The European Commission in February 2010 revised the Commissioner portfolios, separating transport and energy and adding climate action.   Energy now stands by itself, and the climate action portfolio may allow potential for better action on more achievable short-term goals, but the reorganization is likely to take up most of the year 2010.   The name “climate action” does not raise hope for more reasonable approaches though.