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  • 09 November 2015 (In the Press)


    The review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) should include a renovation target with a focus on deep renovations, respondents have told a European Commission consultation

    Minimum renovation targets are "essential" to ensure that the law's goals are met. The law should aim for deep renovations that reduce energy demand by at least 70%, said Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE). 

    Both the rate and depth of renovation must be considered to ensure a minimum renovation target moves the building stock as a whole towards a 'nearly zero energy' standard by 2050, said insulation manufacturers' association Eurima and energy efficient buildings lobby EuroAce.

    NGOs said a definition for deep renovations is needed. They said that binding targets are required as the EU "has no track record of delivering complex change on the scale required for the energy transition without binding rules". 

    Respondents also called for a clearer definition of 'nearly zero energy buildings' (NZEB) at EU level. Member states are required to ensure that all new builds reach the standard by the end of 2020.

     The current wording "leaves too much interpretation freedom for the member states" to decide on what concepts such as "a very low amount of energy required" or "renewable energy produced on-site or nearby" mean, said BPIE. 

    NGOs called for quantitative thresholds for buildings' energy performance. Clarification is also needed on how big the share of renewables covering any remaining energy needs should be, they said.

     The 2010 directive states that the low amount of energy that highly energy efficient buildings will still require should be covered largely by renewable sources, including renewables produced on-site or nearby.

    Electricity lobby Eurelectric argued that the law should clarify that building owners can choose whether to generate their own renewable energy or buy it from the grid.

    "Renewable energy distributed through an efficient electricity grid or district heating system is as renewable as renewable energy generated on-site or nearby," it said.

    But EuroACE argued that any remaining energy demand supplied by renewables should ensure that the building supplies as much energy to the grid as it take from it. Buildings should be made as energy efficient as possible as a priority before the inclusion of renewables, it said.

    But district heating association Euroheat & Power argued that the NZEB targets are too focused on a consumer product approach. Minimum performance standards should account for the wider environment, including the availability of renewable and recoverable resources.

    Respondents also supported making Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) mandatory for all buildings. Currently the certificates, evaluating a building's energy performance and recommending improvements, only need to be issued for buildings which are constructed, sold or rented out to a new tenant or large buildings occupied by a public authority.

    The Coalition for Energy Savings and BPIE called for the EPCs to be transformed to "building passports" that will be updated throughout the life cycle of a building, including energy renovation activities.

    EuroAce proposed setting a minimum EPC level for rental properties to effectively ban the renting out of worst-performing buildings.

    Insulation manufacturers' lobby Eurima called for the directive to require the setting of caps on energy consumption from heating and cooling at national level, while EHPA called for thermal efficiency standards that are "ambitious and measurable".

    The Commission plans to revise the EPBD as well as the Energy Efficiency Directive next year to extend them out to 2030.

  • 29 October 2015 (In the Press)

    Influence of building insulation on outdoor concentrations of regional air-pollutants

    Estimation of pollutant emission reductions due to increased building insulation. Comparison of annual simulations with an air-quality model with and without emission reductions. Emission reductions up to 9% for PM and 6.3% for SO2 in western Europe.  Seasonally and regionally averaged mass concentration reductions up to 6.2% for SO2 and 3.6% for PM. Winter-time increase in ozone mass concentration.  Full article here.

  • 29 October 2015 (In the Press)

    Modeled effects of an improved building insulation scenario in Europe on air pollution, health and societal costs

    Background: In Europe a substantial share of the energy supply is used for domestic heating and cooling. The quality of building insulation thus significantly impacts air pollution. Objectives: To model the effects of an improved building insulation scenario in Europe on air pollution levels and the resulting effects on health and economy. Full article here.

  • 19 October 2015 (In the Press)


    The European Commission has consistently underestimated the economic benefits of energy efficiency policies for society, a new study showed on Monday.

    EU member states currently use much lower 'discount rates' than the Commission to attribute value to future energy savings, according to consultancy Ecofys.

    These rates have a "striking impact" on the evaluation of different climate and energy policy options, the study argued. Higher rates attribute less value to future savings, making policies supporting investments in energy efficiency appear less attractive, it said.

     The EU should increase its 27% energy efficiency target for 2030 based on the "more realistic assumptions" used by most member states to evaluate the benefits of energy efficiency investments, said energy efficiency lobby Eceee, which commissioned the study.

    The Commission has hinted that it plans to propose raising the target to 30% as part of the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) next year.

    Ecofys argued that discount rates should be addressed as a priority as the Energy Performance of Buildings and the Renewable Energy Directives are also up for review, with impact assessments planned.  

    The consultants found that the Commission's impact assessments of energy and climate policy options fail to differentiate between discount rates used to model individual investment decisions and those used to calculate the total cost of the energy system from a social perspective.

    The Commission should consider calculating an EU-wide social discount rate to determine the annual total energy system costs, the consultants recommended. Society as a whole "has utterly different preferences, restrictions and time horizons" than individual investment decisions, they said, arguing that this should be reflected in differentiated discount rates.

    This is likely to be in the range of 3-6% compared to the 17.5% the Commission used to evaluate the impacts of the 2030 climate and energy policy framework, according to the study.

    Follow-up: Study

    and press release

  • 16 October 2015 (In the Press)


    Energy efficiency renovations in the building sector could save the EU €89-€153bn in grid investment, a study has found. 

    But these savings are usually ignored when the economics of buildings efficiency improvements are estimated, consultancy Ecofys said in a study for insulation manufacturers' lobby Eurima.

    The savings would help to counter the significant investment that will be needed in electricity generation and in strengthening the grid as the heating sector turns to heat pumps that can convert increasing amounts of renewable power into heat, Ecofys said.

    Eurima said that the additional savings and flexibility "should be given due consideration" in the upcoming EU heating and cooling strategy as well as the reviews of the EU's Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives.

     Energy efficiency advocates have been calling on the EU to correctly value all the benefits of energy efficiency and to prioritise efficiency improvements in policy and investment decisions where they are found to be more cost-effective than projects increasing energy supply.

    The European Commission is currently preparing proposals for a new electricity market design, due next year, to integrate larger quantities of renewable energy to the grid.

    Highly efficient new buildings and deep renovations to cut electricity demand would save at least €73bn in 2050 in grid and electricity generation investment, Ecofys calculated. And their potential to provide flexibility to the system would save another €16bn in grid operational costs.

    A highly efficient building stock could save up to 57 GW in peak load compared to a low efficiency scenario by 2050, equalling the current total electricity production capacity of Austria and the Netherlands combined.

     Peak load could be further reduced by around 12 GW by increasing flexibility in the EU power systems. Efficient, well-insulated buildings keep the desired room temperature stable over a longer time and can therefore shift the use of heating in time, the authors said.

    Follow-up: Report

  • 15 October 2015 (In the Press)

    Renovation could save billions in grid investment, say researchers

    Renovating the European Union’s building stock for energy efficiency will save €80 to €153 billion of investment costs into the bloc’s power system by 2050, new research obtained by EurActiv has found. See the full article on EurActiv

  • 22 September 2015 (In the Press)


    Feedback from industry groups on the development of an EU heating and cooling strategy has highlighted sharp differences in opinion on how to balance energy supply and savings. 

    Replacement of existing heating systems offers "clearly better" opportunities to cut emissions from heating than relying on insulation improvements, said biomass industry lobby Aebiom. 

    Improvements to buildings have significantly longer reinvestment periods than heating equipment, it said. 

    But insulation manufacturers' lobby Eurima said that tapping energy saving opportunities in buildings before tackling heat supply would bring "the largest societal benefits and avoid lock-in effects". 

    Focusing on energy savings avoids the development of an "oversized heating and cooling distribution system", Eurima said, adding that much energy used for heating and cooling is compensating for losses from poorly performing buildings. It called for a comprehensive policy framework for renovation. 

    The associations made their comments in response to working papers released by the European Commission intended to form the basis for a new heating and cooling strategy to be published by the end of the year. The Commission requested feedback on how to find the "cost-optimal" balance between various options to decarbonise the sector.  

    Power industry association Eurelectric argued that low-carbon electricity needs to be part of the least-cost approach to decarbonising heating. It criticised the Commission for overlooking low-carbon technologies such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage in favour of renewables.  

    It also found the emphasis on district heating problematic. While the technology will "certainly be part of the solution", the large-scale infrastructure investment will lock the EU into the chosen technology path for decades, it said.  

    By contrast, district heating and cooling association Euroheat&Power argued that thermal storage is "more cost-effective than the storage of electricity, and large-scale projects deliver significant cost reductions compared to solutions at the level of a single building".  

    Combined heat and power (CHP) lobby Cogen Europe argued that optimal solutions will depend on local conditions, including whether infrastructure such as district heating networks are available.  

    Pushing for an electrification of the heating and cooling sector above certain levels depending on local conditions will "lead to substantially higher costs for society", Cogen argued. It called for EU building policies to include low-carbon heat supplies such as micro CHP in addition to renewables. 


  • 14 April 2015 (In the Press)

    MEPs back ringfencing Juncker Plan money by a single vote

    By a single vote, MEPs today (14 April) passed an amendment ringfencing up to €5 billion of Juncker Plan money for energy efficiency projects.  Click here to read the full article

  • 25 February 2015 (In the Press)

    Energy union strategy – the reaction

    Politicians, stakeholders and environmentalists responded to today's energy union strategy positively but with a degree of scepticism about its real impact. Read the full analysis in the EV online

  • 09 February 2015 (In the Press)

    Tweet of the day: @MAC_europa #energyeffiency first! - Energy consumption in the EU down to its early 1990s level #energyunion

    first! - Energy consumption in the EU down to its early 1990s level

  • 21 October 2014 (In the Press)

    Building renovation: the key for energy security, growth and jobs

    On 23 October, EU heads of state and government will be facing a key moment in their duty to bring economic progress and social well-being to EU citizens when they attend the European Council to decide on the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework, write Pascal Eveillard and Jan te Bos. Click here to read

  • 09 September 2014 (In the Press)

    Energy efficiency: a key tool for boosting economic and social development

    New IEA report shows the multiple benefits of energy efficiency and calls on governments to invest more resources to harness them.  Click here for more information

  • 23 July 2014 (In the Press)

    Dispute over 'bonkers' EU energy savings plan

    EU commissioners are meeting today to agree an energy savings target for 2030 amid serious disagreement about how ambitious it should be.  Read the full article

  • 26 June 2014 (In the Press)

    Think Tank: Europe needs a building renovations directive

    Europe’s struggling bid to rein back energy wastage in the building sector could be boosted by a renovations directive implemented under a new Directorate-General for Resource Efficiency, says the sustainable energy think tank E3G. Read the full article

  • 23 June 2014 (In the Press)

    EU paper pencils in 30% or 35% efficiency target for 2030

    To maintain Europe’s emissions-cutting momentum, a 30% cut in energy usage is needed by 2030, rising to 35% if the EU wants to reap the benefits of energy security, jobs and growth, says a draft communication for the bloc’s energy efficiency review, seen by EurActiv. Read the full article