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EU on the way towards a more energy efficient building stock


25 Nov 2008


Sustainable Dev.

EU on the way towards a more energy efficient building stock

Tapping into the savings of the existing stock potential

On 13 November 2008, the European Commission published its proposal for a recast of the Energy Performance of

Buildings Directive as part of its package on Energy Security.

RICS fully supports the Commission’s objective to strengthen the provisions of the current Energy Performance

of Buildings Directive and to provide more clarity in a number of areas.

After all, buildings and construction works have the largest single share in global resource use and pollution

emission. The use of energy efficient technologies, changing peoples’ behaviour and an increased use of renewable

energies are some of the tools available to encourage lower energy use. The key challenge is to encourage consumers,

 business, industry and governments to require and to opt for efficiency. The disproportionate role of buildings as

contributors to climate change is largely a legacy of the way homes and offices have been constructed over the last

few decades. With buildings accounting for more than 40 % of all CO2 emissions, RICS believes the EU has an

important role to play in ensuring energy efficiency in the built environment.

Despite the fact that now 22 Members States have fully implemented the Directive, the recent RICS implementation

report “Towards an Energy Efficient European Building Stock” clearly illustrated that Member States have been facing

 considerable practical difficulties – partly due to the fact that the Directive deals with a very complex sector

with a multitude of actors but also due to vague provisions in the actual legislation.

Removal of the 1000m2 threshold for major renovations of existing buildings

The business case for implementing energy efficiency measures within new building projects has been powerfully

made during recent years. However, more than half of the existing stock in the EU is constructed prior to 1970

which means that most of the buildings that will exist in 50 years and later are here already. The abolition of

the 1000m2 threshold for major renovation will remove barriers to tackling the greatest challenge – making the

existing stock more energy efficient and thereby fully seizing the untapped potential embedded in existing buildings.

Promotion of low and zero energy buildings

Commission has taken the right steps towards stimulating an increased uptake of low and zero carbon buildings by

requiring Member States to draw road maps with clear definitions. With the consumer in mind we feel that it is

crucial for the Commission to work on common definitions of what constitutes a ‘low and zero energy’ building to

avoid confusion of the public.

Public awareness and communication

Raising public awareness and communication play a key role in instigating change. Energy certificates need to be a

truly meaningful tool.

Therefore, RICS welcomes the Commission’s move towards making it compulsory for Member States to initiate targeted


In addition, the requirement of making the certificate available at the time of marketing of the building either

for sale or for rent will not only alert the client to the respective performance of a property but will also lead

to estate agents recognising this as an important feature of the transaction process.

Increasing the number of buildings required to publicly display the certificates and making the recommendations an

integral part of the certificate will further underline the significance of the certificate.

RICS sees the introduction of mandatory random quality control mechanisms as an essential element in ensuring

consumer confidence.

Public buildings leading the way

The recast of the Directive means public buildings have an exemplary role to play. Governments and public

authorities need to put their own house in order by rolling out energy efficiency measures in their own building

stock. Implementation of the recast for public buildings will therefore be brought forward to 31 December 2010 as

supposed to 31 December 2012 for all other buildings.

Penalties for non-compliance

In future the Commission will require Member States to enact stringent controls and enforce fines in case of

non-compliance. RICS feels that this is absolutely necessary if the legislation and the issues of energy saving

are to be taken serious both by Member States and EU citizens.

Next steps
Against the background of European elections coming up in May, it is highly unlikely that the current Parliament

will start work on the legislation and that a rapporteur will be appointed which means it is going to be up to the

Swedish Presidency to lead the negotiations.

RICS and its expert members will continue to be actively involved in the discussions.

Further information:
Laura Lindberg
RICS Corporate Communications
67, Rue Ducale
1000 Brussels
T +32 (0)2 739 42 27
F +32 (0)2 742 97 48


University of Lorraine
European Policy Officers
Glass for Europe
Intern in Communication
EFIEES - European Federation for Intelligent Energy Efficiency Services
Communications Intern
The Federation of European Securities Exchanges (FESE)
Policy and Data Analyst
EAIC - European Association of Innovation Consultants
Secretary General