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European Parliament’s vote on Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The European Parliament voted for all new houses, offices and shops built in the European Union to produce the same amount of energy they consume. The vote, which was passed on the 23rd April, calls for an overall deadline of 2019 for all new buildings, with all new public buildings given an earlier deadline of 2016.

The vote is in response to the revision of the directive aimed at improving energy performance in buildings. The revision provides an opportunity to strengthen the existing legislation so as to truly realise the energy saving potential in the building sector, estimated by the Commission to be around 30% energy saving by 2020. The benefits of promoting energy efficiency in Europe are numerous. These include the potential to improve energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage technology development and create new jobs.

“The European Parliament’s vote is very encouraging. Strong leadership from the forthcoming Swedish Presidency of the European Council is now crucial to ensure that the revision serves to strengthen the existing legislation, in line with the Parliament’s vote,” said Dr. Pendo Maro, Senior Climate and Energy Advisor for Health Care Without Harm Europe and HEAL. “Hospitals and health care facilities in general are an important part of the building sector. Adopting and implementing strong legislation to improve energy saving and energy efficiency in buildings will also help hospitals become more energy efficient and reduce their climate footprint,” she added.

Arianna Vitali Roscini, WWF’s Policy Officer for energy conservation in buildings welcomed the Parliament result, saying that "technically and economically there is nothing standing in the way of an earlier deadline for all new constructions, which could help the EU achieve the 2020 emissions reduction targets." She added “This is a structural change within reach, it is up to political will to make it happen”.

The new energy efficiency standards will apply to all major renovations, which is a more comprehensive than the previous law which only covered buildings of surfaces over 1,000 square meters. As existing constructions make up the majority of the European building stock, this revision is particularly important.

Positive outcome for health and environment

The energy crisis of the 1970s led to "vacuum packed" housing resulting in serious costs to health due to poor ventilation, dampness and mould, and exposure to harmful fumes.

In reaction to the vote, Senior Policy Officer at HEAL, Christian Farrar-Hockley said “What is needed on top of energy efficient buildings are healthy indoor eco-environments through better EU regulation that will lead to affordable cost efficient solutions.”

We now spend more time indoors than ever before, this revised directive looks to set higher standards to make our homes, schools and offices not only more energy-efficient but also healthier places in which to live. The directive could also bring huge savings of energy and CO2 can be made with better insulation, improved heating and cooling systems, double glazing, efficient lighting and smart meters. This recast offers a unique opportunity to bring together environment and health objectives, and to generate substantial cost savings.

This week WWF has organised an exhibition at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to showcase the new generation of efficient buildings in France , Germany , Greece , the Netherlands , Romania and the United Kingdom .

Last updated on 1 July 2011

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