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EPB standards are important. Will they be effective?

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In August 2017, after almost 7 years from the issue of mandate M/480, the EPB standards were finally published, thus becoming the national standards in force in EU Member States and in the countries within the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). 

 

The use of EPB standards enables these countries to meet homogenously and efficiently the requirements set out by the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. As a matter of fact, referring to common EBP standards would reduce divergences and costs, compared to developing different standards at national level.

 

However, the assets deriving from the widespread use of EPB standards across Europe go far beyond the effective compliance with EPBD requirements. This set of standards has a key role in promoting a transparent, harmonized and, most importantly, wider energy-efficiency market.

 

The use of national calculation methods is a well-recognized barrier for the market uptake of many energy saving technologies and products. Thus, referring to these common EPB standards could significantly boost the development of European industries and SMEs of the construction sector.

 

Speaking of products, harmonized assessment procedures for the energy performance of buildings will also have an impact on the requirements of HVAC equipment and other appliances that use energy, DHW and lighting systems. Indeed, EPB standards finally connect EPBD and Eco-design Directive requirements, accommodating the holistic building-system approach by connecting product declarations with Building Energy Performance certificates.

Such a consistent EU assessment structure rewards the best products, technologies and services at EU level, offering wider market opportunities, increasing investments in the sector and improving cost-effectiveness of technologies.

 

Unfortunately, having the EPB standards in force is a necessary but not sufficient condition for reaping all the benefits listed above. Indeed, despite the flexible structure offered by EPB standard for national/regional adaptations, Member States can still decide to reference specific national standards instead of using the new EPB set. This possibility jeopardizes the harmonized regulatory framework previously envisaged.

 

To avoid such a fragmented panorama, it is crucial that all stakeholders involved in the energy efficiency market – industry, regulators, building professionals – support and promote the EBP standards among national regulators. It is with this goal in mind that REHVA and ISSO joined their efforts to create the EPB-Center.

 

The Center brings together EPB standards’ experts and users, for effectively supporting implementation and, in turn, for further improving the standards themselves. This virtuous circle of implementation-application-improvement could play a crucial role in the actual use of these standards at local level, thus allowing Europe to meet its environmental and economic ambitions at once, by becoming a global frontrunner in the cleantech market.