At Energys Group, we are constantly monitoring global work on energy efficiency. And we’d like to draw your attention to a change at EU level that many of us may have missed in the Christmas build up.
On December 19, while most of us were pondering what Santa might deliver, the EU delivered a different kind of present.
Reuters reports that the Union has created new rules on energy standards for all new public buildings, plus improvements for existing buildings, which account for considerable EU greenhouse gas emissions.
“The fight against climate change starts ‘at home’, given that over a third of [the] EU’s emissions [are] produced by buildings. By renovating and making them smart, we are catching several birds with one stone: energy bills, people’s health, and the environment,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said in a statement.
The new rules, which aim to boost energy performance across the public sector and encourage renovations aimed at creating more energy-efficient buildings, are most welcome.
But at home, we can’t say for sure whether the EU’s move will make differences in the UK as 2018 progresses.
The key is the Great Repeal Bill. The BBC explains that this critical plank of legislation has reached the committee stage in the House of Commons, which is where there will probably be many attempts by MPs to change its wording.
The idea is that all existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law, to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit.
So, theoretically at least, now the EU has raised its standards on efficiency, there’s no reason why these new rules shouldn’t remain in place here after Brexit too.
This would be a real positive for energy efficiency in the UK public sector. We already have Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards delivering real change across rented properties. If we can embed EU-derived laws to raise the bar on new public buildings, and renovate existing schools and hospitals, we can massively improve the quality of our public services and increase our transition to low carbon.
At Energys, we hope these new EU standards make it into UK law as Brexit progresses.
What exactly will the new EU rules do?
The EU package creates a clear path towards low and zero emissions building stock by 2050, underpinned by national roadmaps to decarbonise buildings.
First, it encourages the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and smart technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently, by introducing automation and control systems.
Additionally, it introduces a ‘smartness indicator’ which will measure buildings’ capacity to use new technologies and electronic systems to optimise operation and interact with the grid.
Given the Government’s determination to update and reinvent a smarter UK grid, we feel sure these new EU efficiency changes should make it into UK law. And because EU member states determine their own internal laws on top level standards like these, we could take the measures even further if we have the will.
Let’s be sure our sector as a whole continues to advocate, and ensure this EU efficiency reform package doesn’t get swept under the Brexit carpet.
The final word
January is generally a quiet time, as the sector gets back to work and looks forward to a year of promise. But this EU news, delivered quietly before Christmas, is a real reason to celebrate.
Let’s use the EU lead to push for a more radical, disruptive, energy efficient UK public sector as Brexit deadlines draw ever nearer.
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