Europe agrees standards for efficient buildings by 2020

By team, Nov 20, 2009, 11:09 2 minute reading

The European Union (EU) agreed to strengthen the building codes already in place in order to reduce their carbon emissions close to zero by 2020. The new requirements aim at reducing the energy bill of buildings but also to achieve greenhouse gases emissions reductions in accordance with the post-Kyoto rules to be decided next month.

All new buildings in the European Union will be nearly zero energy as of 2020, European institutions decided on Wednesday, 18 November. Public authorities will have to lead the way by ensuring that all new buildings they own or occupy after 2018 meet the near-zero-energy standard. As for existing buildings, Member States will also draw up national plans to increase the number of nearly zero energy buildings for the standards to apply when they are refurbished. They must also, by mid-2011, make a list of financial and other incentives for the transition, such as technical assistance, subsidies, loan schemes and low interest loan.

Near-zero-energy buildings are defined under the agreement as constructions that have "a very high energy performance". Any energy that buildings will use should come to a very large extent from renewable sources generated either on-site or nearby. This could be the start of a promising future for heating and cooling equipment relying on natural refrigerants used in the building sector. The choice of a natural refrigerant can guarantee zero direct greenhouse gas emissions to start with. In addition, using CO2 heat pumps is an ideal way to satisfy the renewable target in the energy share needed to power a building.

Zero emissions buildings in tune with post-Kyoto climate objectives

The agreement sent a strong signal ahead of the climate talks that the EU can move from words to action on climate. Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of EU CO2 emissions. It is estimated that, by strengthening the provisions of the Directive on energy performance of buildings, the EU could achieve a reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 70% of the current EU Kyoto target. In addition to this, these improvements could save citizens around 300€ per annum per household in their energy bills, while boosting the construction and building renovation industry in Europe.

What next?

The new rules will be formally adopted at the beginning of 2010. Once adopted and published in the EU Official Journal, Member States will have two years to bring their national laws into line with the new directive.


By team (@r744)

Nov 20, 2009, 11:09

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