The European Commission has opened a consultation to gather views on the 2010 Energy Performance Directive (Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings) (the “Directive”).

Have the aims of the Directive been achieved?

A central aspect is whether stakeholders feel that the Directive has met, and if not whether enforcement is adequate in order to achieve, the aims of the Directive (including in respect of “nearly-zero energy buildings”). Reading between the lines it is easy to be left feeling that the EU Commission thinks that the aims are not being achieved.

Bearing in mind that buildings represent 40% of energy consumption, and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, the EU Commission describes the current increase in energy efficiency of buildings of 1.4% per year as relatively low and attributes this particularly to the low rate of renovation of >50 year old buildings (and such buildings represent a high percentage of the buildings in the EU).

The EU Commission suggests that this figure should be above 2%. A number of questions (including whether there should be minimum renovation targets) are directed at this issue and at financing and creation of markets relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy (including self-consumption) in buildings.

Questions are also raised about the connection between the workings of the Directive and policies at district and city levels, smart cities, heating and cooling networks, and available skills and competitiveness of the construction sector (particularly the smaller end of the construction sector).

Stricter standards on the way?

In June 2015 Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič confirmed the roll out of stricter EU energy efficiency and performance laws in 2016, and this is reflected in the consultation document. The consultation asks in what areas the Directive should have gone further and which policies have worked most effectively at a municipal and national level. Again reading between the lines, but of course subject always to arguments based on better regulation, it would not be surprising if the outcome of the consultation was that at least an increase in enforcement of current standards was required if not an increase in standards.

Consultation

Stakeholders have until 31 October 2015 to lodge their views on the variety of issues raised. The consultation can be accessed here.