In recent years energy efficiency of the building stock has been recognised as a significant route to contribute towards meeting the European Union’s energy targets, by reducing energy demand and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Furthermore, improvements in energy efficiency across the built stock can provide energy security by lessening the reliance on external suppliers and increases energy affordability, which has numerous social benefits. The overall driver pushing energy efficiency higher up the priority ladder is to achieve the EU’s energy savings targets of 20% by 2020, rising to 32.5% by 2030; to try and achieve this the EU has implemented a variety of policy instruments. Due to energy efficiency being viewed as an essential mechanism to assist the EU in meeting energy and climate change targets, the need to assess the effectiveness of these policies has arisen. Thus, a database was created to facilitate the continual evaluation of the impact of energy efficiency policies concerning existing buildings across the EU, namely the EU Building Stock Observatory (BSO).
The EU BSO is a European Commission initiative which monitors the energy performance of buildings across Europe’s 28-member states (MS) and the EU as a whole. The EU BSO database holds over 170 energy efficiency indicators for each MS, which cover six broad topics:
- Building stock characteristics, including energy consumption and fuel supply mix;
- Technical systems;
- Certification and how they are implemented;
- Finance available for building renovations;
- Fuel poverty and social aspects;
- Building codes and national definitions.
The topics outlined above were developed to facilitate the assessment of energy efficiency improvements of the built stock and the impact of this on the actual energy consumption of the building sector overall. Through the energy efficiency indicators in the BSO and associated topics, the data presented gives an overarching view of energy consumption patterns within each building typology across the EU. Thus, the chief purpose of the BSO is to provide a clear understanding of the effectiveness of EU policy measures and of market support mechanisms, which will steer an improvement in the depth and rate of building renovations to enhance energy efficiency across the EU. The BSO aims to provide a snapshot of which building typologies across the EU built stock can garner the most significant energy efficiency and energy performance improvements, through enhancements in policy and technologies. The significance of this is that the project will steer future EU energy efficiency policies, support mechanisms, and initiatives to contribute towards meeting energy and climate change targets.
However, this all-encompassing energy efficiency database has faced one major obstacle during its life-time, specifically the database, as it stands, currently lacks enough robust data to allow conclusions to be drawn. One of the main issues is that a number of indicators within the BSO do not have reliable data that is measured, known, or publicly available (e.g. EPC rating by floor area). A further concern is that approximately 10% of indicators in the database, were filled through various EU funded service contracts (i.e. Inspire, Tabula, Entanze) which have now reached completion and are not likely to be repeated, suggesting that they will likely remain as persistent data gaps unless other sources can be identified.
Given the existing data position numerous strategies have been implemented to address the substantial data gaps. One method utilised has included a rationalisation of the indicators currently present in the EU BSO, whereby a considerable amount of energy efficiency indicators has been recommended to be hidden temporarily from the public domain. The identified indicators won't be displayed until the associated data is either measured or publicly available, ensuring a better user experience throughout the database. In addition, two primary data collection tools have been executed, an online survey and a series of focus interviews both focused on the EU non-residential building sector. Both of these strategies are anticipated to close a momentous amount of persistent data gaps and contribute towards populating the EU BSO with meaningful and reliable data going forward.
With regards to the primary data collection tools comes a special plea, if you or someone you know is in a position to support this important initiative and complete the non-residential building stock survey please do so at https://eu5se.voxco.com/SE/?st=RZK8gEUZcLfHM4ra0Yinde02tubs3cYP%2fOGO435aowY%3d&tui=1537449413753&nocookie
If you would like to keep up to date with all the news and upcoming events from the EU BSO, please register your interest by emailing us at EUOBs@rics.org