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Raquel Ponte Costa
9 October 2012
On 13 June 2012, embattled negotiators from the European Parliament, Commission and Council were able to endorse a trilogue agreement on the Energy Efficiency Directive. Their compromise text has since been approved in the European Parliament through a final plenary vote on 11 September, giving Member States until April 2013 to present their national programmes for its implementation. EWFA is grateful for the political impetus that has enabled an agreement to be reached, as to be left with no common framework for energy efficiency would be a damaging result for European industry.
Nevertheless, EWFA finds the final provisions contained in the approved Directive - especially those on building renovation - to be disappointingly unambitious in comparison with their predecessors in early Commission and Parliament proposals. The agreement reached on the renovation of public buildings (Article 4) limits the application of a binding 3% renovation target to only central government buildings with a total usable floor area exceeding 500m2 (250m2 from July 2015). This significantly waters down the Commission’s original proposal for the target to be met by all public sector buildings with a total usable floor area exceeding 250m2, including those at regional and local level.
EWFA finds it disheartening that certain Member States remain averse to the economic and environmental benefits that deep building renovations can bring for both public and private sectors. The allowance of behavioural savings gives too much flexibility and prevents full commitment to energy-saving renovation. More encouraging is the provision for Member States to establish a long-term strategy for mobilizing investment in the renovation of their entire national building stock (Article 3a). EWFA agrees that long-term national perspectives on building renovation will be essential to fulfill the Commission’s ambition for a 90% reduction in emissions from buildings by 2050.
However, without a firm Europe-wide framework, the onus remains on Member States to develop ambitious, forward-thinking and innovative long-term strategies that commit fully to building renovation. EWFA hopes that promised employment increases and a positive return on investment will encourage national governments to implement concrete measures to ensure their transition into low-carbon economies. If correctly employed, cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies such as window film can deliver significant energy savings at the same time as facilitating economic recovery.
EWFA looks forward to cooperating with Member States to ensure such a workable transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive into national legislation.