Arlington County has adopted the US Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System as a method to measure the energy and environmental performance of buildings in the county. Adopted in 1999, the Arlington Green Building Incentive Program was revised and enhanced in 2003. The programme allows private developers to apply for additional density if the project achieves a LEED award (certified, silver, gold, platinum).
In 2005, Lebanon adopted a thermal code for buildings, requiring new constructions to comply with minimum insulation standards. This concept was new to Lebanon, and awareness of building energy efficiency very low, even among professional parties. Since Lebanon lacked a good compliance checking regime with this new policy, it was decided to implement the thermal code on a voluntary basis for a transitional period. To stimulate voluntary adoption, the government allowed for larger floor area in buildings complying with the standard.
The city of Helsinki requires construction processes in Viikki to follow principles of sustainable development. PIMWAG assessment criteria were chosen by the city of Helsinki through competitive bidding. The scheme was developed essentially for Viikki but is planned to be extended to other public building projects across Finland. In Viikki, all projects must meet the basic requirement level of assessment criteria in order to be granted a site and building permit.
Despite new building regulations and growing awareness of the contribution that buildings make to greenhouse emissions, there has been little improvement in the energy performance of housing in the state of Victoria, partly due to increasing new house sizes, coupled with growth in the use of central heating and air conditioning. As a key element of Victoria’s ‘Greenhouse Strategy’, the state government has developed a sustainability standard for residential buildings, which requires a five star energy efficiency rating for new homes constructed in Victoria after 1 July 2004.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates a 35% drop in energy use by 2010 for all federal buildings. Section 109 of the new law requires that ‘sustainable design principles are applied to the site planning, design, and construction of all new and replacement [federal] buildings’. In addition to the requirement for sustainable design, Section 109 requires that new federal buildings consume 30% less energy than that allowed under the standard for commercial buildings or the International Energy Conservation Code for residential building.
According the new German building regulations, when more than 20% of the area of a component needs to be changed, it has to be done in line with requirements for new construction. For example, owners of existing buildings are required to replace windows in line with the regulations on new construction if more than 20% of the window area needs to be changed.
The National Climate Protection Programme (NCPP) of 2000 identified renovation of existing buildings as a priority task. By implementing the climate protection programme for existing buildings, providing grants at reduced interest rate, investments of €1 billion per year were envisaged. For this purpose, €200 million per year in subsidies was earmarked by the government to reduce interest. Under this climate protection programme for existing buildings, the Federal Investment Bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau - KfW) offered loans at 3% below market interest rates for measures undertaken to reduce emissions, with a minimum CO2 reduction of 40kg per m² per year.
In Vermont and several other US states, a uniform, national Energy Star rating system, known as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), has been adopted. The Energy-Rated Homes of Vermont (ERH-VT) programme provides a one-stop service to obtain energy improvement mortgages (EIM). In order to qualify for an EIM, an energy rating must be performed. ERHVT provides the energy assessment, obtains contractor bids for the planned measures, oversees the contractor’s work, conducts a post-construction energy rating and prepares documents to secure the energy efficiency mortgage.
Funded by Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, the LEED Incentive Program provides financial assistance to building owners and developers, who incorporate cost-effective sustainable building measures early in the building process. Incentives are individually negotiated. The minimum is €12,100 for projects that commit to achieving a LEEDcertified rating and €16,100 for those committing to a LEED silver rating.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (also see fact sheet no 8) includes tax credits for energy-efficient buildings and products. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced a voluntary labelling programme, Energy Star, aiming to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce CO2 emissions. The programme includes measures for home improvements, with tax credits available for a number of products reaching optimal efficiency levels, which typically cost much more than standard products.
A lot of effort has gone into improving energy efficiency in UK housing. To encourage investment in domestic energy efficiency, the UK government has introduced reduced VAT rates for energy-saving materials and micro-renewable energy: micro-CHP and air source heat pump systems. VAT has been cut from 17.5 % to 5 %. Five per cent is the lowest VAT rate allowed under EU agreements.
Regulatory Energy Tax (REB) was introduced in 1996 when it became clear that a European-wide CO2 tax would not materialise. This was the first tax introduced, not primarily for funding collective expenses, but for environmental reasons. As the tax was not intended to supplement overall government income, revenues were integrally recycled by lowering other taxes. Furthermore, from 2000 to 2004, so-called energy premiums on the purchase of energy-efficient appliances and other energy-saving measures by households were made available.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Energy Efficiency Agency of the Republic of Bulgaria have developed a crediting mechanism to the sum of €50 million to finance energy efficiency in the residential sector – the Residential Energy Efficiency Credit Line (REECL). The range of EE measures includes energy efficient windows, insulation of walls, floors and roofs, efficient biomass-fired stoves and boilers, solar water heaters, efficient gas-fired boilers, and heat pump systems for heating and cooling.
In 2004, the UK government introduced the Landlord’s Energy-Saving Allowance (LESA). The scheme provides private landlords who pay income tax with upfront relief of up to €2,150 on capital expenditure for installations of loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and now solid wall insulation in residential properties which they let. The 2005 budget stated that, in the context of its Green Landlord Scheme, the government would explore how other tax deductions and reliefs could be developed to reward landlords who improve the energy efficiency of their properties.
The UK government launched its Sustainable Communities Plan (Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future) in 2003. The plan sets out a long-term programme of action to develop sustainable communities in both urban and rural areas. It aims to tackle housing supply issues in the South East, low demand in other parts of the country, and the quality of public spaces. The plan includes not only a significant increase in resources and major reforms of housing and planning, but a new approach to how we build and what we build.
Under the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC), electricity and gas suppliers are required to achieve targets for the promotion of improvements in domestic energy efficiency. These suppliers provide subsidies to promote the installation of energy-saving measures by residential customers, and are rewarded with defined energy-saving benefits for each measure subsidised.
The Energy Innovators Initiative (EII) helps commercial and institutional organisations overcome barriers to pursuing improved energy efficiency through renovation, equipment upgrades and other energy-saving measures. The EII offers its members financial incentives of up to 50% of the cost of planning a renovation, such as energy management plans, audits and feasibility studies. Funding (up to 25% of costs) is also available for implementation of energy retrofit projects (based on actual energy savings).
Even if the energy performance of housing is relatively good in Finland compared to European average, according to energy audits of buildings and processes backed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Finnish buildings still have remaining energy-saving potential of up to 20.5% in heating, 7.6% in electricity and 13% in water consumption. Energy audits assess project-specific primary energy use, energy-saving potential and use of renewable energy sources, and offer improvement suggestions (with their CO2 reduction impact) and cost calculations.
High energy consumption in residential buildings incurs unnecessary energy costs and results in damage to the environment. This project supports the idea of avoiding such wasteful expenditures by designing and developing better housing in a cost-effective manner. Concepts are implemented through actual projects to persuade architects, developers and investors, through practical examples, that the concept of energy efficiency in new housing developments is attainable at a reasonable cost.
In the context of its National Climate Strategy and associated Energy Conservation Programme, voluntary energy conservation agreements play a central role in the implementation of energy efficiency in Finland. Energy conservation agreements are framework agreements between the Ministry of Trade and Industry (KTM) and various sector organisations. The voluntary energy conservation agreement programme was launched in Finland in November 1997, not just for industry concerns, but also for building, energy, transport and public sectors.
These trusts, a form of investment funds, aim to link building sustainability to added value, economic returns and reduced investment risks. These are private sector initiatives, supported by government funds to facilitate the development of methodologies.
MINERGIE is a quality label for new and refurbished buildings. Comfort is the central theme – the comfort of the users living or working in the building. This level of comfort is achieved by high-grade building envelopes and the systematic renewal of air. Specific energy consumption is used as the main indicator to quantify the required building quality.
A CASBEE assessment provides a rating of the environmental quality of a building (indoor environment, quality of service, outdoor environment on site) versus the environmental load (energy, resources, materials, off-site environment). The programme operates by providing all involved parties with a common language and target, to facilitate communication among stakeholders. A CASBEE assessment is now a mandatory requirement for a building permit in five municipalities, some of these also requiring a minimum performance level.
A German public-private partnership, involving the German Energy Agency and various professional parties, initiated the Chance Energiepass (Opportunity Energy Certificate) Partner Programme. It consists of an Internet tool that can be used by professional home owners (housing corporations, professional managers) for their own use, and DIY stores for advice to customers. The tool provides energy ratings of homes, and advice on how to improve energy performance. The system is characterised by several degrees of advice, from basic to more advanced, with increasing involvement of experts at increasing prices.
To stimulate investments by home owners in the energy performance of existing houses, the Dutch government initiated a programme of subsidised energy performance advice. This was coupled with a subsidy programme for energy measures, and subsidies were higher if the investments had been recommended in an energy performance advice. Almost threequarters of home owners indicated that the advice had not changed their planned investments in the energy performance of their homes. This subsidised advice has proved particularly popular with housing corporations.
While multi-apartment residential buildings represent a large share of the total building stock in Bulgaria, many shortcomings can be observed in the management of such buildings, which impedes the implementation of energy efficiency measures. The promotion of housing associations to improve sustainable housing management of multi-family buildings, combined with recommendations for energy efficiency measures and appropriate financing mechanisms, facilitates the process of improving energy efficiency in existing apartment buildings.
The municipality of Jablonec nad Nisou conducted a review of the energy bills of municipally owned buildings and identified buildings with higher than average energy consumption. They proposed a series of improvements to a group of municipal buildings – three elementary schools, eight infant schools, a former infant school now divided into a multi-use unit (private school, children’s day centre and health centre), and a swimming pool. Energy efficiency measures were adopted in all the buildings, except five schools, where only energy management measures were proposed and implemented by the ESCO.
The Danish Electricity Saving Trust (Elsparefonden) has developed a push/pull mechanism to promote the adoption of energy-efficient products. The trust urges manufacturers and retailers to put more efficient products on the market by providing information about upcoming programme activities, creates consumer awareness of new products and provides subsidies for qualifying products. The trust’s mechanisms are tailored towards end-use products.
New Spanish building regulations require, amongst other things, that all new domestic buildings cover 30 - 70 per cent of hot water needs using solar thermal energy, depending on location and quantity of hot water used. The obligation also applies to buildings undergoing substantial renovation. In addition, new building codes will oblige all commercial buildings over 4000 m2 to be equipped with photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.