EU Zero Carbon Targets

The EU recently set a target for the introduction of zero carbon buildings across the EU.

The European Parliament adopted the report drawn up by the Romanian Socialist MEP Silvia-Adriana Ţicău on the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
The Council (Member States) is expected to finalise its report in the 2nd half of 2009.
The main results of the European Parliament vote are:

* All new buildings to become “zero-energy” by producing their own energy on-site as of 1 January 2019.
* Member States to set intermediate targets for existing buildings, i.e. fix minimum percentages of buildings that should be zero-energy by 2015.
* A building’s energy performance level will have to be upgraded to meet at least minimum energy performance requirements when the planned refurbishment is more than 25% of the building’s surface or where the costs of renovation are higher than 20% of the building’s value.
* The European Commission will have to establish a common methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings by 31 March 2010
* Installing smart meter installations in all new buildings and all buildings undergoing major renovation.
* A new provision for Member States to draw up national action plans by 30 June 2011 setting out financial instruments for improving the energy efficiency.
* A call to propose additional financial instruments.

To take these one at a time: All new buildings to become “zero-energy” by producing their own energy on-site as of 1 January 2019.
This is precisely the target that the UK introduced in 2006 with the announcement of the zero carbon target in the Code for Sustainable Homes. Subsequently it was realised that this target was impractical and wildly expensive, and a more realistic and flexible definition of zero carbon was proposed in early 2009. This revision is currenty under consideration, and I hope that the EU adopts this version or one like it rather than the definition above where all energy must be produced on-site.
Member States to set intermediate targets for existing buildings, i.e. fix minimum percentages of buildings that should be zero-energy by 2015.
There is no doubt that in order to achieve an 80% CO2 reduction there will need to be firm targets, and these will either need to be imposed or made attractive. I would prefer a cross EU energy subsidy that penalises heavy energy use and rewards energy savings.

A building’s energy performance level will have to be upgraded to meet at least minimum energy performance requirements when the planned refurbishment is more than 25% of the building’s surface or where the costs of renovation are higher than 20% of the building’s value.
This is very interesting, and answers some of the questions about how we can guarantee upgrades of the existing stock by 2050. But will this not result in a rash of renovations that only affect 24% of the buildings surface?

The European Commission will have to establish a common methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings by 31 March 2010
My understanding is that this is covered by an ISO standard, so we must be close to agreeing. What is less impressive is the fact that we do not use a shared energy model and our use of climate data varies wildly across the EU. Could do better.

Installing smart meter installations in all new buildings and all buildings undergoing major renovation.
This was recently mandated in the UK and is under consultation at the moment, the plan is to complete a roll out by 2020.

A new provision for Member States to draw up national action plans by 30 June 2011 setting out financial instruments for improving the energy efficiency.
This has already been examined in the recent DECC consultation on Heat and Energy Saving Strategy. A number of financial instruments were examined including increasing the service charge element of all energy bills to pay for the neccessary upgrades. Time will tell whether this is the adopted model.

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