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       Energy and Environment 15/12/2010
EU: Focus more on Energy Efficient Buildings

Efficient buildings should be a key priority of the forthcoming revised Energy Efficiency Action Plan, say MEPs in a resolution passed on 15 December 2010. Proper implementation of existing legislation and public sector example-setting were among other proposals listed in the resolution. MEPs also voted for a binding energy efficiency improve target of 20% by 2020.


A number of priorities to be included in the forthcoming revised Energy Efficiency Action Plan (EEAP) are listed in a resolution, drafted by Bendt Bendtsen (EPP, DK) and approved on 15.12. with 511 votes in favour, 64 against and 57 abstentions.


Efficient buildings


Buildings account for about 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. MEPs therefore strongly advocate efficiency-oriented renovation of existing buildings, whilst acknowledging various existing hurdles, such as upfront investment costs and split incentives in multi-apartment buildings.


MEPs call for innovative ways to remove these hurdles, including district refurbishment plans, and making financial incentives available at regional, national and European levels, such as proven “pay as you save” mechanisms. The resolution also calls on the European Commission to promote new initiatives through the forthcoming innovation strategy.


Complying with existing legislation and binding targets


MEPs say that the EU eco-design and energy labelling directives should be implemented properly. They ask the Commission to include in its revised Energy Efficiency Action Plan an assessment of how existing legislation is being implemented, and, based on its findings, to include measures such as individual energy efficiency targets that correspond to at least a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 at EU level (taking account of national circumstances) and prior approval by the Commission of each Member State's national energy efficiency action plan. The resolution goes further, by proposing a binding energy efficiency improvement target of at least 20% by 2020. It notes that in other priority areas, such as renewable energy and CO2 emissions, mandatory targets have helped to stimulate the drive and sense of ownership needed to attain them.


Public sector: a leading role in promoting energy efficiency


The assessment of the energy efficiency potential of existing buildings should start with public buildings including schools, say MEPs, adding that EU institutions and agencies should set an example by refurbishing their buildings in a cost-effective manner to near-zero energy consumption levels by 2019. They also ask the Commission to propose minimum requirements for the installation of street lighting and the purchase of vehicles by public authorities.


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