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The EU is reportedly close to introducing new laws that would impose energy efficiency standards on all public sector buildings from 2018 and all new homes and commercial buildings from 2020.
Bureaucrats are expected to put the finishing touches to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive this week: the goal is significantly reduce energy use across the bloc and provide a major boost to a construction sector deep into a crisis.
The EU Parliament is said to have proposed that all new buildings are made to qualify as zero carbon from the end of 2018. But member states said the goal was unachievable and instead will set a high energy efficiency standard for public buildings, and then later all buildings.
There will also be guidance on how member states calculate building energy use to take account of heating, cooling and hot water.
The move follows the EU’s release last month of a report proposing a wide-ranging programme that would see the European Investment Bank fund energy efficiency makeovers for 15 million European buildings over the next decade.
“Many energy efficiency improvements pay for themselves in energy savings, make our industry more competitive and our citizens richer,” said the European Commission report.
The Commission estimated the initiative could create an extra 300,000 direct jobs a year and around 1.1 million indirect jobs, particularly for builders, roofers, glaziers and other small businesses.
Taken together, the Commission estimates the new funding and standards could reduce the EU’s expenditure on gas imports – mainly used to heat buildings – by over €100bn.
The proposals also mirror plans in the US where energy efficiency standards are included in the Boxer-Kerry bill currently working its way through the Senate.