The European Union

The European Union

The long expected Winter Energy Union Package has been published by the European Commission, but FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) is wondering whether the energy package will lead to growth in construction.

Kjetil Tonning, FIEC vice president, said, “We hope the Winter Energy Union Package will facilitate deep renovation in the private residential market as well as the relatively easy wins offered by retrofitting public buildings.”

He added, “We will be looking closely at the smart financing measures proposed and we hope that the recommendations of the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group have been taken into account.”

He added that another important point for FIEC was the extent that any financial support was to be linked to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), the quality of which he said had been inconsistent to date, “meaning that any proposal to assess energy savings achieved by comparing EPCs before and after renovation might be premature”.

The European Commission has presented a package of measures to “keep the European Union competitive as the clean energy transition is changing the global energy markets”.

The Commission said it wanted the EU to lead the clean energy transition, not only adapt to it. With this in mind, the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU’s economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. This week’s proposals have three main goals, said the Commission – putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers.

The package includes actions to accelerate clean energy innovation and to renovate Europe's buildings. It claimed to provide measures to encourage public and private investment, promote EU industrial competitiveness and mitigate the societal impact of the clean energy transition.

The Commission added that it was also exploring ways in which the EU could show further leadership in clean energy technology and services to help third countries achieve their policy goals.

For FIEC, an important proposal in the package concerns the revision of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD).

It said the technical aspects of this proposal would create a new generation of intelligent buildings, the energy consumption and production of which would be managed by smart systems.

References to BIM

As well as the focus on energy saving, FIEC hopes to see specific references to BIM (building information modelling).

“Recent hints from the Commission suggest that we can expect something on the digitalisation of construction processes,” said Tonning. “Provided that any digital agenda for construction allows the industry to take the lead, by proposing its innovative technical solutions to achieve broad modernisation and efficiency objectives, we would be very enthusiastic.”

FIEC added that in the end, the package should also address energy savings in existing buildings. It pointed out that the right measures could reassure investors and help owners to embark on renovation projects, leading to almost 1 million new jobs by 2030, according to Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska in a recent speech at the European Policy Centre.

FIEC is working with its Member Federations to assess the implications of the Winter Energy Union/Clean Energy Package, in particular Ecodesign measures, which were not expected and if extended to construction products in general, are not likely to be welcomed by FIEC.

In the meantime, Tonning said he was under no illusion regarding the challenge of firing up investors and owners.

“New nearly-zero energy buildings are old news,” he said. “Making existing buildings more energy efficient is entirely within our competence now, but convincing cash-strapped owners, landlords and public authorities to invest in the ambitious, often slow-yielding improvements required is another challenge altogether, one that we hope has been addressed by this package.”

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