European Parliament Action on Energy Performance Required

17 May 2010
Alyn Smith, Scottish member of the European Parliament, has called on the European Parliament to pass the final version of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. 

The new legislation, which has been in the works for two years, sets the framework conditions for national legislation on minimum energy standards for new and renovated building stock.

Smith said:

"Around 40% of the energy use in the EU comes from buildings, so it's vital we take significant action in this area: not just for the purposes of fighting climate change, but also to help those struggling with fuel poverty by saving them money on their energy bills.

"The Scottish Government has already taken strong action: new building standards will reduce the carbon emissions of Scotland's buildings by 30% below the current standard, and we've also devoted £30 million for increased energy efficiency and insulation in homes. 

"When this piece of legislation was passed last year in First Reading, I expressed my concern at the fact that what it was asking local authorities to do was perhaps a wee bit too ambitious.  So, I'm delighted that the final agreement reflects key COSLA concerns - particularly the need for national governments to fully involve local authorities in all stages of the implementation of the Directive, and to provide them all kinds of assistance as required.  I'm also pleased that the deadlines are now a bit more realistic.

"Overall, this is a fine bit of work by the European institutions: while leaving most of the details to Member States, as it should do, it lays out a determined direction of travel, especially in the field of promoting net zero energy buildings, which should provide new opportunities for our construction, architectural and design industries.  My only concern is that it does not set out an instrument for new EU funding for energy efficiency in buildings, and I will be pushing the EU to work on this when they redesign the budget over the coming months.  We need to devote much of the EU budget to "green growth" measures, and energy efficiency is high on that list.

"I ask my colleagues to support the Directive when it comes to the vote on Wednesday."

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive calls on Member States to set out minimum energy performance requirements which all new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovation must meet.  By 2020, all new buildings must be nearly net zero energy, with the public sector taking the lead with earlier deadlines; a robust system of inspections and energy performance certificates is also set up.

A number of key amendments, submitted by Alyn Smith, were reflected in the final agreement, particularly concerning the vital need to fully involve and consult local authorities in the planning and implementation stages of the Directive, and that public authorities should have full assistance, both financial and in terms of training and guidance, from Member States to help them implement the Directive.

Implementation deadlines have also been pushed back, which should give local government more time to prepare themselves for the task.