EU legislation will promote green homes, green economy
The new legislation, which aims at realising the up to 40% in energy savings associated with the way buildings are constructed and managed, comes just weeks before the crucial global talks on climate change that are set to take place in Copenhagen in December and amidst efforts by governments in the region to stimulate job creation and flagging economies.
The recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will require the public sector to take the lead by owning buildings with "nearly zero" energy standards by the end of 2018. The legislation requires all new buildings to have low energy standards by 2020.
EU member states will also be required to take measures to bring existing housing stock in line with the directives, though no firm standards for this have been laid down. Member states will have to develop national plans to encourage owners to take the opportunity to install smart meters, heat pumps and heating and cooling systems using renewables.
“We are disappointed that the recast Energy Performance and Buildings Directive is weaker than the version that had been agreed by the EU Parliament, which included firm standards for renovating housing stock and tighter deadlines for implementation,” said Andreas Beckmann, Director of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme. “That said, this legislation represents a step in the right direction for our region – for jobs, a new economy as well as for climate and the environment,” Beckmann added.
Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other countries of the region are among the most wasteful users of energy in Europe, with an intensity of energy use that is twice or more that of their Western European neighbours. The housing stock in the region is a particular problem in this respect, with old and inefficient buildings and still limited incentives for households to implement energy saving measures.
WWF and other organisations such as the Romanian Green Building Council have been promoting energy efficiency in buildings as a golden opportunity for cutting costs and climate change while promoting the creation of green jobs and a green economy.
“The costs of implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy measures are minimal as they are not cash expenditures but rather investments paid back by future, continuous energy savings,” says Steven Borncamp, who heads the Romanian Green Building Council, an industry group dedicated to promoting energy and resource-efficient construction. “With proven and technologies currently available in Romania, the energy consumption in both new and old buildings can be cut by an estimated 30-50 percent without significantly increasing the upfront investment cost.”
Constructing and retro-fitting energy efficient buildings is relatively low-tech but labour intensive, making it one of the leading opportunities for stimulating job creation.
“The pressure is now on the governments of Central and Southeastern Europe to transpose and implement the new EU legislation, “ WWF’s Beckmann said. “The sooner they get serious about this, the sooner we will begin realising the multiple benefits of energy efficiency in buildings”.