Member Policy Update
Welcome to the Europe Regional Network’s October 2016 Policy Update, providing GBC members with the latest news on all things relating to European green building policy. It’s been a busy start since the summer break, so we hope this helps you catch up on all the key news.
ERN respond to consultation on the EU Framework’ for sustainable building
On 6 October the ERN submitted a response and position paper to the European Commission’s (EC) consultation on an ‘EU Framework’ for Sustainable Building Assessment . This consultation provided stakeholders in the building sector with the opportunity to comment on the development of a common EU framework of core indicators for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. The framework is due to be released in mid-2017.
In our response, we shared our view that if the EC considers a shift towards lifecycle thinking as a central goal for European buildings policy, then Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – based indicators should lead the design of the framework. LCA provides the only accurate view on whether the solutions provided for a building are the most sustainable over its whole lifecycle given its context and function.
In our response, we acknowledged that although LCA might be more complex to begin with, in the long-run it would simplify the design and communication of the framework, removing the need for some of the Commission’s proposed indicators, and unclear overlaps between these.
The ERN’s response also made reference to the importance of developing a comprehensive national implementation strategy for the Framework and reinforced our commitment to working with GBCs, Regional Partners and the European Commission on the implementation of this strategy. The full position paper is available to read here
Industry calls on Commission to realise the potential of buildings in review of efficiency package
On 30 November, the Commission will present its revisions to the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives (EPBD), after a delay on the expected October publication. Ahead of the release of this package, over 42 business leaders in the building sector have written a letter to President Juncker urging the Commission to be ambitious and call for a 2050 vision of a Nearly Zero Energy Building stock.
In the letter, the Commission is reminded that such a vision for 2050 is aligned with the European Parliament’s call, the EU’s 2030 energy and climate objectives and will help accelerate the implementation of meaningful national renovation strategies: one of the Europe Regional Network’s key political priorities. Moreover, it will demonstrate the political commitment for renovation, providing industry with the certainty to unlock investment.
Although it remains to be seen how much of this will be incorporated into the efficiency package, a speech delivered by Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete on 24 October indicated that the role of buildings would not be overlooked as the sector has the highest potential for emissions reductions. Specifically mentioning the renovation challenge, Cañete suggests that updates to the EPBD and the introduction of the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings will help speed up renovation rates to above 2% annually.
EuroACE workshop participants discuss way forward for energy efficiency legislation
Ahead of the 2016 review of both the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (Euro-ACE) held a series of industry workshops to discuss possible ways forward for energy efficiency legislation.
Subsequent to these workshops, Euro-ACE published a booklet summarising the key findings. This shows that stakeholders agreed that there should be a greater focus on existing buildings in the EPBD and flexibility must be given to Member States to achieve nearly-zero energy building stock by 2050 in a technologically neutral way.
Participants also agreed that a shared 2050 vision in the EPBD review will give the finance sector the confidence needed to invest, particularly for the energy renovation of buildings. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC’s) were also identified as an important tool to enhance renovations by delivering both energy savings and providing investor confidence.
BPIE report calls for introduction of Building Renovation Passports
On 13 October, the Buildings Performance Institute of Europe (BPIE) published a report suggesting that Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) should be evolved into so called “Building Renovation Passports”. BPIE say that such passports will lead to improved performance in buildings and more comfortable homes.
The report draws from three examples in the Belgian region of Flanders (“Woningpas”), France (“Passeport Efficacité Énergétique”) and Germany (“Individueller Sanierungsfahrplan”), that received public authorities’ support.
The concept of these passports is centred around the combination of technical on-site energy audits and quality criteria established in dialogue with building owners. The idea is that passports will enable building owners to develop a roadmap for deep renovation of their property, gather all relevant building information in a single place and get up to-date information about a building across its lifetime. This includes information about comfort levels (air quality, better daylight entry, etc.) and potential sources of finance for improving the property’s energy performance.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here.
Commission is encouraged to develop green laws for public authorities
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is calling on the European Commission (EC) and Member States (MS) to make green public procurement mandatory for public authorities in an effort to move towards a low-carbon circular economy.
At a plenary session in Brussels in October, the CoR asked that Green Public Procurement (GPP) be mandatory for public tenders above certain EU thresholds and called for binding economic regulations on sustainable sourcing, urging both the Commission and Member States to incentivise the use of secondary raw materials by allowing the application of preferential tax rates by Member States.
The CoR also called for both the application and implementation of the polluter pays principle with future legislative proposals from the Commission urging producers to internalise the total costs of products along the entire value chain.
Commission urged to revisit Eco-design and Energy labelling process
A number of organisations, including the Coalition for Energy Savings and EuroACE have called on the European Commission to restart the EU’s Eco-design and Energy Labelling processes, which have been stalled for over a year now.
Recognising the potential of Eco-design and Energy labelling in delivering half of the EU’s 2020 savings target and a quarter of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions target, the Commission are being urged to help European industry to continue to grow within Europe’s product policy framework and to contribute to the EU’s energy goals through the deployment of energy efficient products.
However, at the same time that many of these letters were submitted, a leaked document suggests that the EU no longer plans to regulate the energy efficiency of many household appliances, as the rules are “judged too intrusive and … have no great energy savings potential”. However, this does not mean all products will be exempted and it remains to be seen what products will be subject to new rules on energy efficiency.
Further information on the status of this directive will be released in the coming weeks.
EU makes three commitment at UN Habitat III Conference
At the UN Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador last week the ‘New Urban Agenda’ was adopted. This contains guidelines to help make cities all over the world more inclusive, green, safe and prosperous. At the conference, U.N. Habitat partners, including the EU, presented commitments to implement this agenda – each with a specific scope, expected achievements and deliverables.The three commitments from the EU are listed below:
- Delivering the New Urban Agenda through the Urban Agenda for the EU
The Urban Agenda for the EU contributes to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda within the EU and is designed for cities to have their say in policy making. Action plans for 12 priority themes are currently being drafted and will include policy recommendations, good practices and projects to be shared and scaled up in the EU.
- Developing a global, harmonised definition of cities
The EU will work in partnership with the World Bank and the OECD to develop a common definition of cities so as to enable the comparison of data, benchmarking and monitoring of data. An online database will be developed, as well as a global list of cities and their main features. A proposal for a global definition of cities will eventually be submitted to the United Nations
- Fostering cooperation between cities in the field of sustainable urban development
The EU will draw on the success of the Urbact network and the EU’s International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme, to encourage cities to link up with one or more partner cities to develop and implement local action plans on common priority issues such as access to water, transport systems, health or housing.
WGBC were represented at the conference by Dominika Czerwinska ,Director of Membership and Regional Networks.Read her reflections on the conference here.
Further information can be found on the EU website http://urbanagendaforthe.eu/
Paris agreement to come into force on 4 November
On 5 October, it was announced that 72 parties representing over 56 per cent of global emissions have ratified the Paris Agreement into national legislation. This means that the two thresholds – of at least 55 countries covering over 55 per cent of global emissions – needed to ratify the deal have been reached and therefore the agreement will come into force on 4 November , ahead of the UN’s annual climate summit in Morocco in November.
Following on from this announcement, The UN Chief, Ban Ki-Moon, cautioned that the hard work begins
“Now we must move from words to deeds and put Paris into action. We need all hands on deck — every part of society must be mobilised to reduce emissions and help communities adapt to inevitable climate impacts,”
At the time of writing, 85 of 197 Parties to the Convention have ratified the agreement. Further information can be found here.
Investor Confidence Project to scale up standard for Energy Efficiency
In October, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP), announced that both the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) are working together to develop and promote the ICP as the premier global underwriting standard for energy efficiency projects.
The aim of the ICP is to change the energy efficiency market by building trust in the financial and environmental benefits of retrofits. This will be achieved by streamlining transactions, increasing the reliability of projected energy savings and standardising how projects are developed and brought to market.
The GBCI will work to scale ICP from a project conceived and developed at EDF in the US and Europe to a market-based standard, housed at GBCI and capable of global growth.
Further information can be found here.
Spotlight on RenoWiki
Each month, energy efficiency initiatives from across Europe which have been uploaded to the RenoWiki will be featured here. Subscribers are invited to check these initiatives out, explore the RenoWiki and submit their own initiatives.
This month we do not have one favourite initiative, but 34, as Poland has joined the RenoWiki! This is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the commitment of our colleagues in Poland to collaborating with European colleagues to sharing solutions to overcome the renovation challenge. Why not check out the Polish RenoWiki page and browse initiatives ranging from PROSUMENT , a financial scheme for micro-renewable installations to PUBLENEF which supports public authorities in implementing energy efficiency policies .