One of the main provisions in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002/91/EC is the development of certification of buildings, in order to make energy consumption levels visible to owners, tenants and users, and to raise the awareness on energy efficiency whenever a building is constructed, sold or newly rented out.
The Energy Performance Certificates (as required by Article 7) can thus, be a significant and powerful tool to inform citizens about energy saving options. Information is also included on the economic impact, how to create a demand-driven market for energy efficient buildings and for services regarding energy efficiency.
Lack of quality can destroy the credibility of the certification system and lead to problems within official acts and with compliance with the legal national requirements. In order to implement certificates as a meaningful and reliable source of information, numerous countries have decided to implement a quality assurance system for the Energy Performance Certificates. A review of the national approaches can be found in the report.
This report makes a review of the national approaches regarding the Quality Assurance (QA) scheme for the Energy Performance Certificates.
There are two different options for setting up the Quality Assurance system:
- A mandatory scheme
- A voluntary scheme
In addition, there are different approaches regarding the implementation of the QA system (e.g. it can be realised by the government) and regarding the setup of the QA scheme (e.g. it can be arranged in consultation between the sector, the accrediting bodies and the government/issuing authority).
Lack of quality in the issued certificates can lead to sanctions against the qualified expert. There are different kinds of sanctions.
There are generally two different ways of checking certificates: the audit of the certificates can be either random or targeted. Most countries make use of both random and targeted audits. There are different types of audit: automatic checks and manual checks.
Having a QA system in place is not automatically a guarantee in itself of the professional integrity of the certification scheme. The QA systems must also comply with certain minimum standards, and refer to qualitative boundary conditions. Trust in certificates strongly depends on trust in the QA system.
Most Member States have developed special procedures of quality assessment, usually including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and feedback procedures, training, as well as a wide range of “penalties”. The kind of the mistake (serious/not serious) plays an important role in some of the QA systems.
In conclusion the role of the QA systems is at least twofold:
- To identify bad practices, and eliminate incompetence
- To provide constructive and educational feedback, as well as input for the continuous improvement of the scheme.
The present experience and the reasoning evolving from the observation of the QA systems in other frameworks indicate the importance of having an intense QA at the early stages of the operation of certification schemes. This is crucial for establishing the reputation of the overall scheme and for gaining the trust of the public.