subscribe
e-newsletter
digital edition
product info
advertise
Mcgraw Hill Construction
    Subscribe to GreenSource the magazine
of sustainable design: $19.95 for one year
comment

POLICYWATCH:
European Directive Puts Performance First

A groundbreaking law in 2002, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has seen uneven implementation

05/2009

By Tristan Roberts

In 2002, the United States had turned its back on the Kyoto Protocol and popular awareness of the role of buildings in greenhouse-gas emissions was still years away. Meanwhile, 2002 marked the approval of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) by unanimous consent of European Union members. Recognizing the large role for buildings in meeting Europe’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and in averting global warming, the directive calls for a standard, continent-wide approach to energy efficiency, with an initial target of 28 percent overall savings, contributing to an estimated 11 percent reduction in total European energy use.

European Directive Puts Performance First
Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----

Central to the directive is a standard framework for calculating the energy performance of buildings, which member countries must adopt. New buildings and existing buildings undergoing major renovation are subject to minimum performance requirements, which are to be updated at least every five years to reflect technical advances. The law calls for qualified professionals to inspect buildings, and specifically targets heating and air-conditioning systems (although not the building envelope).

Certification of buildings provides accountability. Whenever buildings are constructed, sold, or rented, the owner must provide an energy performance certificate, which can’t be older than 10 years. In smaller buildings, the certificate may be a private matter, but in buildings over 11,000 square feet, the certificate is publicly posted. An advisory report accompanying a building’s ratings tells owners how to save energy.

In compliance with the directive, Great Britain released “display energy certificates” with letter grades from “A” to “G” for all public buildings, in October 2008. Failing grades were the rule, including poor grades assigned to a number of high-profile “green” buildings. The average grade was a “D” for the first 3,200 buildings surveyed, and only 22 earned an “A.” One of the worst “G” ratings on record belongs to the offices of the British Department of Energy & Climate Change (which has indicated that it is moving).

The minor public scandal that ensued—along with fines for building owners not posting certificates—succeeded in raising the profile of building energy performance. However, Bill Bordass, an expert on building performance, cautioned that it’s too early to judge the results. “The system was introduced hastily, and the technique, the benchmarks, and the assessor skills all need to evolve,” he said.

Richard Nussey, director of L’atelier Ltd., which provides services for compliance with the law, agrees that the British response to the directive is a work in progress. “They are fairly complex pieces of legislation and the industry is still coming to grips with implementing them,” he said. “The downturn in the property market certainly hasn’t helped.”

Up until now, the minimum performance levels and the certification schemes have been developed country by country, and some countries are lagging behind so much that they’re being sued. Even Britain has received blistering criticism for its slow adoption, which caused projected carbon savings for 2010 to drop by 80 percent.

A recast version of the directive, proposed in 2008, would put more focus on homes and existing buildings regardless of size. It would also add needed rigor, creating a benchmarking tool that would allow comparisons among the energy standards of different member states—a step that could harness old European rivalries and competitiveness in service of more rigorous certification schemes.

share: more »
This article appeared in the May 2009 print issue of GreenSource Magazine.

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
Click here to go to product info Page
McGraw-Hill Construction

Search Sweets

Example: Building Products, CAD, BIM, Catalogs
Search
Reader Feedback
Most Commented Most Recommended
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days
Recently Posted Reader Photos

View all photo galleries >>
Recent Forum Discussions

View all forum discusions >>