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Delivering healthy and energy efficient buildings with EPBD - notes from the REHVA Brussels Summit Conference

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On 13 and 14 November, REHVA organized its traditional Brussels Summit, bringing together Members, Supporters, MoU Partners, EU stakeholders and several present and future collaborators. While day one of the Summit was strictly devoted to meetings, the second day was open to the public, with the REHVA Brussels Summit Conference. The topic of the event, “Delivering healthy & energy efficient buildings with EPBD”, gathered around a hundred participants among EU stakeholders, experts and HVAC industry representatives, in the conference room of The Hotel. The agenda foresaw 3 sessions of presentations, tackling the main theme of the conference from different point of views. All presentations are available on the REHVA website.


Session 1 

The first half of the morning, chaired by the REHVA President Stefano Corgnati, was dedicated to the ongoing review of the EPBD, included in the Clean Energy Package that was launched by the European Commission one year ago. Anita Derjanecz, REHVA Managing Director, updated the audience about the ITRE report on the EPBD review, released in October and currently under discussion in the Trialogue of Parliament-Commission-Council. Ms. Derjanecz also presented REHVA position and initiatives in this process, such as the REHVA position paper published in June 2017.

REHVA Vice-president Jarek Kurnitski added technical contents to the discussion by presenting to the public the three main items that require REHVA’s attention in the EPBD: a) harmonized minimum ventilation requirements; b) persisting technical challenges in the transparent definition of nZEB level at the Country level; c) the Smart Readiness Indicator, as a way to link energy infrastructure and energy production to the energy use of buildings and their systems.

Gordon Sutherland, Senior Project Adviser at EASME, drove back the discussion to the policy level. In his presentation, he went through the key aspects of the future EPBD, smart, simpler and supportive of building renovation, with digitalization as a pivotal aspect. Mr. Sutherland also stated that the long implementation process is much more a matter of politics rather than of technical contents, because “directives, exactly as HVAC systems, do not have a one-fit-all application”.

Jens Laustsen, coordinator of the EPBD Concerted Action (CA), presented the ongoing fourth phase of the CA, ending in March 2018 and prepping the ground for the 2019/2021 legislation novelties. The cost-optimal level of energy performance will become lower and lower thanks to the reduced costs of high performing technologies, paving the ways for most ambitious energy reduction policies. The fifth phase of the CA will closely follow the forthcoming legislative developments, where smart buildings will come in the picture.

The morning session was closed by a panel discussion involving the speakers and representatives of three EU level umbrella Associations, EVIA with Arthur Corbin, EPEE with Andrea Voigt and Eurovent Association with Igor Sikoncyzk. Panellists were asked about their position on the EPBD review ahead the Trialogue, their views on the challenges and impacts of EPBD implementation on HVAC manufacturers, and their opinion and thoughts on health and energy performance of buildings.


Session 2

The last question of the panel discussion well introduced the topic of the second morning session, “health performance of energy efficient buildings”, chaired by Jaap Hogeling, editor-in-chief of the REHVA Journal.

Roberta Savli, Senior EU Policy Adviser at EFA (Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations), opened the discussion with a presentation about the effects of Indoor Air Quality on respiratory diseases, reduction of healthy years and even deaths. For instance, research data shows the around 90% of respiratory diseases is caused by bad IAQ. Such figures justify the advocacy activities EFA with regard to the current review of the EPBD, for which they proposed to display IAQ certificates beside the mandatory EPCs.

Atze Boerstra, REHVA Vice-president, presented to the audience the innovative concept of “HEAnZEBs”, as a solution to combine excellent energy and health performances. As explained in his speech, nowadays an integral approach is very much needed when designing nearly Zero Energy Buildings, keeping in mind that occupants want/need/expect health and comfort in such buildings. The health criteria (HEA) used in many well know certifications schemes (such as BREEM or WELL) can be the starting point for this combined new building design strategy.

Ann-Marie Aguilar, Director of Operation at the previously mentioned WELL Institute, closed this session by presenting the WELL certification scheme. The scheme was launched in 2013 and is nowadays collecting increasing consensus from private investors willing to certify their buildings. The core idea is that buildings are agents of public health, improving occupants’ well-being from several standpoints, not just related to IAQ or energy use. Another important aspect of the WELL scheme is that buildings are certified based on on-site performance verifications. Depending on the number of criteria met, silver, gold or platinum certificates are released, valid for 3 years. Last data of Ms. Aguilar’s presentation displayed the high market appreciation for WELL certified buildings, able to improve occupants’ health and productivity and the building value.  The speeches were followed by an interesting debate with and among the audience, which prolonged also during the lunch break.


Session 3

The afternoon session of the Conference opened with the introduction by Catalin Lungu, REHVA Vice-president, of CLIMA2019, the triennial REHVA world congress that will be held in Bucharest in May 2019.

The chair of the Session, Prof. Kurnitski, gave then the floor to the representatives of the SHASE delegation, Hideharu Niwa, responsible for the guidelines for nZEN design in Japan, and Gyo Onishi from Taisen Corporation. Their presentation gave on one side information about the Japanese policy direction about nZEB, which will become the norm from 2030, on the other side about ZEB demonstration buildings in Japan. Specifically, Mr. Onishi presented to the audience the energy use and innovative technological solutions adopted in the Taisei Corporation Building.

The following presentations aimed at offering an overview of activities resulting from the application of the currently in force EPBD recast. Niels Christensen, Product Manager at Lindab, presented the company’s approach and technological solutions to face to the challenges posed by combining comfort and energy efficiency in different building types. Erick Melquiond, President of Eurovent Certita Certification, focused his speech on the certification of air flows related products, which are the first step for providing a healthy indoor environment.

Stijn Verbeke, Researcher at EnergyVille/Vito, gave a speech as representative of the consortium developing the support study for the European Commission on the Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI), mentioned several times throughout the whole conference. Dr. Verbeke displayed the work carried out by the consortium so far, mainly related to the definition of a “catalogue” of smart ready services, and the ongoing discussion about the indicator to include in the definition of Smart Readiness.

Jaap Hogeling gave the last presentation of the day about EPB Center, an initiative born from the collaboration between REHVA and ISSO, which aims at supporting the coherent implementation of the new set of EPB standards at national level, providing technical support to interested parties and in turn assisting the improvement of the standards themselves.

After a last round of questions and answers directed to all the speakers of the afternoon, the Conference closed at 16:30, leaving to participants the time for continuing to network in front of a coffee. 

Delivering healthy and energy efficient buildings with EPBD - notes from the REHVA Brussels Summit Conference