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Best practices

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF PROGRAMMES

Each policy and programme has its own specific benefits, as well as some weak points. In this section, the strengths and weaknesses of different policy instruments to promote energy efficiency in buildings are summarised in relation to the basic typology of regulatory, economic, communicative and organisational policy instruments. Two programmes are presented as examples of each instrument. These demonstrate the specific strengths and weaknesses of each type of policy, as a starting point for further analysis of the main policy instrument types. Recognition of strengths and weaknesses is essential in order to identify combinations of policy instruments that support but not limit each other, and to select policy types to target specific barriers.

Regulatory instruments

Regulatory policy instruments could produce particular policy outcomes if compliance and legitimacy are ensured, if the behaviour of occupants does not create rebound effects, and if the dilemma of low-income households is addressed (regulations cannot be imposed on existing housing overnight, as most energy measures are not yet cost-effective and not all households are in a position to comply with mandatory standards). Compliance with building regulations remains a key issue in EU countries, where the energy performance of new buildings regularly fails to meet the standards set by the regulations, while authorities are reluctant to force them on private owners. Compliance (and sanctions) with respect to existing housing stock is especially problematic, as not all renovation work requires notification of the building authorities. Furthermore, regulations never address all the technical or economic potential, so incentives beyond the (often conservative) standards need to be introduced.

Germany is one of the very few countries to have introduced energy regulations on existing stock (fact sheet no 6). According to new regulations, when more than 20% of the area of a component needs to be changed, this has to be done in line with the requirements for new construction. The combination of building regulation standards with EPBD energy certificate levels is an interesting approach that warrants further research.

Compared to the residential sector, the public sector has more capital and knowledge, so there is no similar conflict between environmental and social values arising from the introduction of new legal requirements. Energy efficiency in government buildings can set a very powerful and public example of energy efficiency. In the US, new federal buildings will be required to consume 30% less energy than that allowed under the standard for commercial buildings or the International Energy Conservation Code for residential buildings (fact sheet no 5), and additional measures, such as solar energy and better measurement of energy expenditures, are encouraged. However, the requirements apply only if the changes are deemed ‘lifecycle cost-effective’ over a building’s lifetime. There has also been concern that saving energy is not a top priority for voters, who may not like their tax dollars spent on improving government buildings.

Energy requirements may also be connected to the building permit process. In the Viikki housing area of Helsinki, all building projects must undergo an environmental impact assessment and meet the basic requirements of PIMWAG criteria in order to obtain a site and building permit (fact sheet no 3). As there is a very limited market demand for sustainable building, owners and developers are unlikely to make use of voluntary environmental assessment methods, but if they are a prerequisite for a building permit, they will be obliged to use them. The programme educates different players in the evaluation process, and a minimum requirement level forces them to consider environmental improvements in areas where they are most costeffective. Despite the high requirement level, contractors and developers were keen to join the project, as good construction sites are few and far between in Helsinki, but this does not apply in low-demand areas. Furthermore, this kind of programme works only if the public authority owns the land. The assessment process requires adequate capacity and expertise from the building permit authority. In this case, the PIMWAG system was tailored to Viikki, but it may be difficult to develop one method that can be applied to all projects, without it becoming too extensive for practical use.

Economic instruments

Economic instruments providing incentives for energyefficient improvements are needed to promote energy efficiency through market-led measures and price signals. Subsidies or preferential loans could be combined with EPBD energy certificates: improvement by one or two certificate levels (A to G, as in household appliances) could be a prerequisite for a fiscal incentive. In Germany, the Federal Investment Bank has introduced a KfW CO2 reduction programme (fact sheet no 7) for existing buildings, offering loans at 3% points below market interest rates for initially four different packages of emission reduction measures with a minimum CO2 reduction of 40 kg per m2 per year. The drawbacks of this kind of programme are that a preferential loan could be regarded as a hidden subsidy, there is a risk of a free-rider effect (loans are benefiting parties that would implement the measures anyway), handling applications is labour-intensive and, in order to achieve adequate savings, the reduction target needs to be high enough, yet still in proportion to the cost of improvements required to achieve it. On a positive note, a specific amount of CO2 reduction per floor area is required by the programme.

In the rental sector, investments in energy efficiency benefit the tenant (in the form of lower energy bills), rather than the landlord (who has to make the investment). In order to overcome this barrier, the UK government introduced the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance (LESA), to be continued as the Green Landlord Scheme, providing private landlords with upfront relief on capital expenditure for energy-efficient installations in residential properties which they let (fact sheet no 14). This programme is one of the few to address the capture of benefits, especially when the private rental sector is the most energy-inefficient form of tenure in the UK. However, a tax deduction is of little use to landlords whose expenditure already exceeds income, which can easily happen in the early years of letting a property, when interest on the loan used to secure the investment (together with other costs) may already create a tax loss. LESA incentives are targeted at specific measures, like cavity wall insulation, but a more general approach directed towards the thermal performance of a dwelling could be adopted, where an annual tax relief would reward landlords whose properties meet a certain level of energy efficiency.

Communicative instruments

Communicative instruments are needed because, unlike in new construction, renovation is often carried out by non-professionals, particularly in the owner-occupied and private rental sectors.

In Central Europe, where the knowledge barrier is especially high, the ‘Demonstrating Low-cost Low-energy Residential Buildings and Sustainable Urban Development’ programme focuses on concepts that are implemented in actual projects in order to persuade architects, developers and investors, through with practical examples, that efficiency in new housing is feasible at reasonable cost (fact sheet no 19). The strength of the programme is the demonstration of existing low-cost solutions; energy consumption in new buildings is reduced without increasing the costs of construction. The programme is voluntary, however, and much effort is required to change overriding attitudes and remaining financial barriers. Like most communicative instruments, the programme is clearly a supporting tool.

In Germany, the Chance EnergiePass Partner Programme (fact sheet no 24) is an example of a public-private partnership, involving the German Energy Agency and various professional parties. It consists of an energy-rating Internet tool that can be employed by professional owners for their own use and DIY stores for advice to customers. The system, which can be used to obtain an EPBD energy certificate, is characterised by several degrees of advice, with increasing involvement of experts at increasing prices.

The programme addresses practical implementation barriers and is relatively low-cost, but as a voluntary information system without any fiscal incentives, it is likely to interest only the most active parties in the market.

Organisational instruments

Organisational policy instruments can support the implementation of energy measures through facilitative or structural measures.

In Finland, positive results have been obtained from energy audits (fact sheet no 18) and voluntary energy conservation agreements (fact sheet no 21). The Finnish programme is characterised by broad participation, involving various sectors of the economy and active participation inside a given sector. There is focus on concrete energysaving actions (objectives in other countries are generally related to environmental targets), specialised assistance with the implementation of an agreement by non-profit energy agency Motiva, and a voluntary approach to meeting objectives (there are no sanctions for non-compliance and few fiscal incentives). Companies or municipalities that have entered into an agreement undertake a start-up energy audit and compile a plan on increasing the efficiency of energy use. Parties involved in the agreement are more heavily subsidised on energy audits than companies not in the agreement. However, single-family homes, (accounting for almost 50% of space-heating energy consumption in Finland), are outside the energy audit programmes. Promotion of housing associations and professional housing management, combined with recommendations for energy efficiency and financing mechanisms, facilitates the process of improving energy efficiency of multiapartment residential buildings, which represent a large share of the building stock in the new Member States. Many shortcomings can be observed in the management of such buildings. In Bulgaria, the Sustainable Homeowners Associations of Multi-Family Buildings programme address the problem with organisational measures (fact sheet no 26). The establishment of housing associations has been an important step in improving facility management and energy efficiency of housing stock. A weakness of the programme is that financial barriers remain, and individual homeowners and associations do not always have the expertise to manage their buildings or plan and implement major renovations. Furthermore, more than 90% of the housing stock in Bulgaria is privately owned, which makes the establishment of housing associations difficult.

PROTOTYPE INSTRUMENTS FOR BUILDING POLICIES

The best practices described in this report were analysed to identify which prototype instruments were used. In this analysis, a prototype instrument is defined as a core mode of operation of a policy or programme, applied similarly in different contexts, but always adapted to specific circumstances.

Best practices were analysed, for each of the four types of policy (as presented in the overview of best practices) and according to the sector they were targeting (residential, commercial and/or public, and new and/or existing buildings). Based on this, prototype instruments are presented each describing a successful means of endorsing building energy efficiency improvements if the barrier addressed by the instrument is relevant to the country and segment of the market. This latter aspect will be discussed in the next section.

Regulatory instruments

Regulatory benefits for above-standard energy performance
Description: Via building regulations, governments can give non-financial benefits to building owners or developers, who voluntarily comply with high energy performance levels. A typical benefit is allowing a larger property to be built on a plot of land (where restrictions apply). Another potential benefit would be to give beneficial treatment (e.g. priority processing) to building permit applications, if the building meets certain energy performance levels.
Key barriers(s) addressed: In the current situation, in which housing demand exceeds supply, it is difficult to introduce new purchasing criteria, like energy efficiency, to the consumer side without government support. Projects incorporating energy objectives early in the design process, during the permit stage, can achieve higher performance levels at less cost than projects which consider sustainable building strategies late in the design process.
Applies to:
New buildings
  • Commercial
  • Public
Mandatory environmental performance evaluation with minimum requirements
Description: Instead of requiring a defined energy or environmental performance level, governments can also oblige building owners to perform an integral assessment, and select some of their own performance improvements, as long as the total improvement adds up to a specified level (via a score list). This tool is better suited to new building developments but, in a simplified form, could also be applied to retrofitting or urban renewal projects.
Key barriers(s) addressed: As there is no market demand for sustainable building, owners are unlikely to make use of voluntary environmental assessment methods, but if such assessments are required to obtain building permits, they have to use them. Moreover, a minimum requirement level forces them to consider environmental improvements where they are most cost-effective. This is very educative for owners and inhabitants.
Applies to:
New buildings
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Public
Above-standard requirements for government buildings
Description: Mandatory standards often do not realise the full cost-effective potential of energy efficiency measures, as governments are often reluctant to push the market forward too fast. For their own buildings, this should not be a limitation, and governments could apply stricter rules to their own buildings, as long as the measures are cost-effective.
Key barriers(s) addressed: In most countries, governments are, in principle, committed to designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating their facilities in an energy-efficient manner, but there is still a wide gap between policy and practice. Government agency policies and activities can also have an indirect impact on the broader market for sustainable construction.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Existing buildings
  • Public
Energy upgrading requirements when renovating a building
Description: Although existing stock represents by far the largest and most cost-effective potential for energy efficiency improvements, it is uncommon to set minimum energy efficiency standards for existing buildings, as this could have a severe impact on many building owners, who have no plans for upgrading their buildings. Rules requiring that, when a renovation is underway, other components of the building also be addressed (e.g. insulating all roofs when a major roof renovation is planned) to a large extent mitigate this risk, while ensuring that renovations are carried out in an energy-efficient way.
Key barriers(s) addressed: While the construction industry is expected to take the lead in improving energy efficiency, it should be borne in mind that new construction is nearly always more profitable and less risky than renovation, as many renovations are very small. The business-as-usual scenario is maintained with additional insulation or replacement of windows, but these autonomous developments are not sufficient to fully realise the potential identified in existing building stock.
Applies to:
  • Existing buildings
  • Commercial
  • Residential
  • Public

Economic Instrument

Preferential loans for significant (above-standard) energy performance improvements
Description: Above-standard energy performance levels can be more expensive to achieve, partly due to their novelty. Preferential loans address the higher investment cost of such measures, by reduced interest rates and/or better loan terms. In addition, financial benefits give a signal to the market about desired improvements.
Key barriers(s) addressed: Efforts to promote sustainable building through market-led measures and price signals may not be adequate to attract investments. Programmes like soft loan incentives can also emphasise energyefficiency in decision making and facilitate the implementation of measures.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Existing buildings
  • Residential
  • Public
Tax credits for installing energy-saving products
Description: Tax credits lower the cost of energy-efficient materials and installation products, thereby reducing the price gap between these and regular products. This reduces the added investment, and improves the payback of investments in building energy efficiency.
Key barriers(s) addressed: Energy efficiency is not a sufficient market factor to attract investment, especially in existing buildings, when most measures give a limited return on investment, and only short payback periods are accepted in the commercial and rental sectors. The main reason for this is that such investments benefit the tenant (in the form of lower energy bills), rather than the landlord (who has to make the investment). A cut in the rate of VAT on energy-saving materials will make it cheaper for all people to insulate their homes.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Existing buildings
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Public

Communicative instruments

Building energy performance audits
Description: Energy audits, sometimes subsidised, provide building owners with a detailed overview of the energy efficiency potential of their building and how it can be realised. As many owners lack the capacity to assess buildings themselves, this allows for an informed choice by the building owner about upgrading his property.
Key barriers(s) addressed: Energy audits address the knowledge barrier (with respect to individual energy consumption, and what can realistically be done to lower energy bills) by providing specific information on a project’s primary energy use, energy-saving potential and the use of renewable energy sources, as well as presenting improvement suggestions and cost calculations.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Existing buildings
  • Residential
  • Commercial
Demonstration projects
Description: Demonstration projects are intended to show, in real life, that energy-efficient homes do not have to cost a fortune and are perfectly comfortable. This is especially important in countries where energy efficiency is a fairly new notion that the market is not really familiar with.
Key barriers(s) addressed: Demonstration projects can help overcome the commonly held belief that energy-efficient design and construction are more expensive than conventional approaches.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Public
Voluntary energy conservation agreements
Description: Energy efficiency is usually not a core aspect of a business operation, leading to a lack of attention to cost-effective improvements. Voluntary agreements to assess and address the energy performance of buildings, facilitated by governments, can put this issue on the agenda and ensure that sufficient attention is directed at to building energy efficiency improvements.
Key barriers(s) addressed: Energy agreements seek to tap into the energy-saving potential on a voluntary, market-oriented basis, so the industry itself can identify the most cost-effective CO2 reduction measures.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Existing buildings
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Public

Organisational instruments

Independent energy audits with organisational support
Description: Independent organisations can assess a building or building plans, identify improvement options and inform the building owner of their costs and benefits. Such assessments can be used to qualify for special mortgages. In addition, the outside organisation can take over the supervision of required contractor work to improve a building, reducing inconvenience to the building owner.
Key barriers(s) addressed: In the owner-occupied and private rental sector, the occupants may not have any experience of procurement or finding a contractor. Practical assistance and information about loans are necessary, especially in renovation, which is sometimes seen to provide opportunities for the construction industry. However, due to high labour costs, small scale and labour-intensive nature of renovation, it is bound to be expensive, and so actually boosts the DIY market.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Existing buildings
  • Residential buildings
Professional management for multi-family housing
Description: Multi-family buildings, with many different owners of flats, require cooperation between owners for energy renovation of the building. Given the lack of organisation, and the sometimes complex and costly renovation process, facilitation of this process by outside experts can improve possibilities to renovate multi-family buildings
Key barriers(s) addressed: The financial management of both day-to-day activities and major renovation projects is especially poor in Central Europe, where municipal housing planning is not well developed and very fragmented. Financial resources and long-term multi-stakeholder strategies on building maintenance and renovation are often lacking or developed without the involvement of homeownersand their associations.
Applies to:
  • Existing buildings
  • Residential buildings
Independent verification of sustainable real estate investments
Description: Forward-looking investors understand the benefits of energy-efficient construction, but still have difficulty grasping the details of novel designs and techniques and calculating the cost benefits. Governments can provide independent assessments of building plans, to provide investors with a reliable appraisal of plans and calculations.
Key barriers(s) addressed: The novelty and technical complexity of modern energy-efficient buildings make it difficult for an investor to assess if the costs and benefits, as projected by the building developer, are realistic. The lack of a solid assessment tool implies that investors may not provide funds, even if a project would otherwise fit their criteria.
Applies to:
  • New buildings
  • Commercial buildings
Energy service contracts
Description: Through an energy service contract, an outside party can install building energy efficiency improvements and charge for these over time, out of the energy savings achieved by the investments
Key barriers(s) addressed: Public building owners often lack funds to invest in the energy performance of their building, even if the investments are cost-effective and they have a good credit rating. The same can apply to commercial building owners, thus limiting investment in building energy performance..
Applies to:
  • Existing buildings
  • Public buildings

Best Practices

SELECTION OF BEST PRACTICES

In the course of the quick scan, arround 30 best practices were identified that represent successful cases of building energy efficiency endorsement. These are described in the fact sheets (see Annex A) listing:

  • The title of the project, the country it was implemented, and a programme summary
  • The sector(s) targeted, the type of policy instrument and the level at which it was implemented
  • The way in which the programme operated
  • The key barriers addressed by the programme
  • The results achieved
  • The lessons learned, in terms of both strengths and weaknesses

Not included in this analysis are regular building energy codes for new construction, which are nowadays common practice in European countries.

As a first step in the analysis, best practices are classified according to the sector they are targeting (residential, commercial and/or public, and new and/or existing buildings), for each of the four main types of instruments that are generally differentiated in policy analysis (based on the classification of the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy):

  • Regulatory instruments, mainly based on mechanisms of force
  • Economic instruments, characterised by a financial transaction
  • Communicative instruments, characterised by persuasion
  • Organisational instruments, that work either by force (e.g. of a procedure) or as facilitators

This information is presented in tables for new and existing buildings, and project summaries are included in the last section of this report. The numbers refer to the fact sheets that provide an extended description of the programme.

Overview: new buildings

Residential buildingsCommercial buildingsPublic buildings
Regulatory instruments
  • Added density allocations for LEED-certified buildings [1]
  • Voluntary building code with added density allocation [2]
  • PIMWAG evaluation as a prerequisite for building permits [3]
  • Five Star Standard [4]
  • Added density allocations for LEED-certified buildings [1]
  • Voluntary building code with added density allocation [2]
  • Voluntary building code with added density allocation [2]
  • Increased requirements for federal buildings [5]
Economic instruments
  • KfW CO2 reduction programme and loans [7]
  • Energy-Rated Homes of Vermont [8]
  • LEED Incentive Program [9]
  • Energy Star rating in combination with tax credits [10]
  • Reduced VAT for energy-saving materials and installations [11]
  • Regulatory Energy Tax [12]
  • LEED Incentive Program [9]
  • Energy Star rating in combination with tax credits [10]
  • Reduced VAT for energy-saving materials and installations [11]
  • Regulatory Energy Tax [12]
  • Reduced VAT for energy-saving materials and installations [11]
  • Regulatory Energy Tax [12]
Communicative instruments
  • Energy audits [18]
  • Demonstration of low-cost, lowenergy residential buildings [19]
  • CASBEE [20]
  • CASBEE [20]
  • Voluntary energy conservation agreements [21]
  • Voluntary energy conservation agreements [21]
Organisational instruments
  • Energy-Rated Homes of Vermont [7]
  • Sustainable real estate investment trusts [22]
  • MINERGIE [23]
  • Sustainable real estate investment trusts [22]
  • None identified

Overview: existing buildings

Residential buildingsCommercial buildingsPublic buildings
Regulatory instruments
  • Energy regulations for existing
    stock [6]
  • None identified
  • Increased requirements for
    federal buildings [5]
Economic instruments
  • KfW CO2 reduction programme and
    loans [7]
  • Energy-Rated Homes of
    Vermont [8]
  • Residential Energy Efficiency
    Credit Line [13]
  • Landlord’s Energy-Saving
    Allowance / Green Landlord
    Scheme [14]
  • Sustainable Communities Plan
    [15]
  • Energy Efficiency Commitment
    [16]
  • Energy Star rating in combination
    with tax credits [10]
  • Reduced VAT for energy-saving
    materials and installations [11]
  • Regulatory Energy Tax [12]
  • Energy Star rating in
    combination with tax credits
    [10]
  • Reduced VAT for energy-saving
    materials and installations
    [11]
  • Regulatory Energy Tax [12]
  • Sustainable Communities Plan
    [15]
  • Energy Innovators Initiative
    [17]
  • Reduced VAT for energysaving
    materials and
    installations [11]
  • Regulatory Energy Tax [12]
Communicative instruments
  • Energy audits [18]
  • Voluntary energy conservation
    agreements [21]
  • Voluntary energy conservation
    agreements [21]
Organisational instruments
  • Energy-Rated Homes of
    Vermont [8]
  • Chance Energiepass Partner
    Programme [24]
  • Energy performance advice [25]
  • Homeowners’ associations
    of multi-family apartment
    buildings [26]
  • None identified
  • ESCO contracts for municipal
    buildings [27]

Unites States: Increased requirements for federal buildings (all states)

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.

Germany: Energy regulations for the existing stock

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.

Germany: KfW CO2 reduction programme and loans

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.

United States: Energy-Rated Homes of Vermont (State of Vermont)

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.

United States: LEED Incentive Program (City of Seattle)

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.

United States: Energy Star rating in combination with tax credits

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.

United Kingdom: Reduced value added tax (VAT) for energy-saving 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.

The Netherlands: Regulatory Energy Tax (REB)

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.

Bulgaria: Residential Energy Efficiency Credit Line (REECL)

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.

United Kingdom: Landlord’s Energy-Saving Allowance (LESA) / Green Landlord Scheme

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.

United Kingdom: Sustainable Communities Plan

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.

United Kingdom: Energy Efficiency Commitment

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.

Canada: Energy Innovators Initiative (EII)

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).

Finland: Energy Audits

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.

Czech Republic: Demonstrating Low-cost, Low-energy Residential Buildings and Sustainable Urban Development

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.

Finland: Voluntary energy conservation agreements

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.

Netherlands, UK: Sustainable real estate investment trusts

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.

Switzerland: Minergie

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.

Japan: CASBEE assessment tool

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.

Germany: Chance Energiepass Partner Programme

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.

The Netherlands: Energy Performance Advice

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.

Bulgaria: Sustainable Homeowner’s Associations of Multi-family Apartment Buildings

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.

Czech Republic: ESCO Contracts for Municipal 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.

Denmark: Electricity Saving Trust

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.

Spain: New building regulations, including minimum requirements for solar energy use

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.