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How blue are you?

Europe is facing an enormous challenge to find ways to deliver a low carbon economy whilst also living up to our commitments under the Lisbon Agenda to become the most competitive region in the world. With European Heads of State having agreed, in March 2007, a binding and unilateral greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 20% by 2020, this challenge has become a legal requirement for the European Union. The question is no longer should it be done, but simply how can it be done.

In Europe, buildings account for 40% of total energy use with transport and industry accounting respectively for 32% and 28%. This makes buildings Europe's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Since it is possible to cut this energy use in half, through simple measures such as wall and roof insulation, buildings are arguably Europe's biggest energy wasters. Yet as insulation has been shown to be the most cost-effective measures to reduce CO2 emissions, they have the potential to be turned from energy wasters into climate savers.

Knowing that the thermal insulation of buildings can play such an important role, it is important to understand what thermal insulation requirements are needed to deliver both Europe's competitiveness and climate objectives.

U-Values for Better Energy Performance of Buildings, carried out by Ecofys for Eurima, did just that and discovered that:

  • Current standards are far from optimum - In almost all cases, current national standards across Europe for wall, roof and floor insulation are not in line either with what would be cost-effective or deliver the EU's long term climate objectives.
  • Climate and cost can work together - The study found that at an energy price of $70 a barrel of oil the cost optimum insulation level for new and existing buildings is also the level needed to deliver an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Savings which would be even further increased if calculated on the most recent peak oil price of$98 a barrel.
  • Good thermal insulation can also keep you cool - Insulation is considered important for colder climate zones, but the study demonstrated that it is as important for keeping buildings cool.
  • Two key conclusions can be drawn from this study. First, there is a need to review national requirements to ensure they are cost optimum and can play their role in achieving our climate objectives. Secondly, policy makers need to develop standards for renovation as every renovation that is not carried-out to optimum requirements is a lost opportunity to save money and help the climate.

 

Documents
Ecofys VII - U-values for Better Energy Performance of Buildings
Ecofys VII - Study -
Ecofys VII - summary leaflet
Ecofys VII - Annexes
Ecofys VII - EP Launch presentation
Eurima Press Release - Ecofys VII study - EU
Eurisol Press Release - Ecofys VII study - UK
Press Release - Ecofys VII Launch - DE
MWA Press Release - Ecofys VII Launch - NL