Italy leads the way in the energy efficiency field. In an annual survey on the most energy efficient countries by ACEEE (the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy), Italy ranked second worldwide for the third consecutive year, following Germany.

This is a result of the state-of-the-art technologies developed in the
sector and a particularly effective and diversified incentive policy, which includes both mandatory incentive measures provided to implement the European Directives, and additional measures approved at national level, which have proven quite effective for the efficiency of industrial sites.

The incentive proven to be the most successful is represented by the "white certificates" scheme (dubbed "certificati bianchi" or "titoli di efficienza energetica").

According to this scheme, the implementation on buildings of energy-efficient projects entitles certain entities (mainly energy saving companies) to obtain the white certificates from a state entity. White certificates are then sold on a regulated market to those companies who are required by law to reach a certain amount of energy savings per year (these are, for instance, suppliers of electricity/gas with more than
50,000 clients).

This scheme has allowed significant returns on investments in years
past, especially in the case of productive sites, where interventions in terms of energy efficiency can be realized simultaneously on buildings and production processes.

It is to be noted that the white certificate regulation is currently under revision.

The new to-be-adopted rules are expected to be less awarding than they have been in the past. This is due (inter alia) to the likely revision of the former mechanism (the “Tau factor"), which previously allowed a significant anticipation of the return on investments. Rumours concerning a possible revision of the Tau factor have ignited protests by primary stakeholders and investors at a national level, and alternative measures aimed at minimizing the effects of such revision are under discussion.

More stringent rules will also likely be adopted in relation to other points, including: liability of the energy saving companies for the effective realization of energy efficiency interventions; back-up guarantees; projects eligible for white certificates; et alia. The new regulations are expected to be approved in late autumn. At the same time, as the white certificate mechanism is considered a best practice worldwide, the European authorities are reportedly considering reproducing this incentive mechanism within the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive no. 27/2012, which is currently underway.

The white certificates are not, however, the only incentive provided under Italian regulation. Additional incentives are provided for civil buildings in the form of 65 percent tax deduction of the costs undertaken for energy efficient works (dubbed "eco-bonus"). Unlike white certificates, which apply mostly to big interventions and/or to interventions concerning more than one site (such as bank branches), this incentive applies mostly to small works and residential buildings.

New regulations have in the meanwhile been approved in relation to "Conto Termico"—a different type of incentive applicable to public administrations, individual entities, and public companies for projects smaller than those eligible to white certificates. The relevant regulation is now applicable to a wider range of projects (with specific bonus in case of near-zero energy buildings) and provides a simplified procedure for the obtainment of incentives.

Other incentives are specifically provided for the public sector. It should be noted that Italy (based on European Directive no. 27/ 2012) falls under the undertaking to renovate 3 percent of its State buildings each year. Measures providing for enactment of this undertaking, as well as specific financings/ funding, are in the course of being implemented.

Finally, another kind of incentive to energy efficiency interventions is granted by building regulation. Upon achievement of certain targets in reducing energy consumption, a "volume bonus" is granted, allowing for increases in buildable volumes and exemptions to rules on minimum distances and maximum heights of the buildings. Such incentives are provided both at a national and municipal level. Municipalities, especially in big city centers, provide for specific and additional kind of incentives in respect to those provided under national rules.

All of the above measures have boosted investments on renovation of industrial buildings in years past, and are now providing new and interesting opportunities in the civil sector.