Energy Performance Certificate (EPCs) are one of the best available sources of information on Europe’s building stock, and if improved, can support the launch of a Renovation Wave in Europe.
The EPC is one of the EU’s main existing instruments to facilitate the long-term decarbonisation of the building stock; however, to exploit its full potential, we need to overcome some hurdles, such as inadequate data gathering, lack of compliance, low reliability, different definitions and calculation methods.
According to the X-tendo report, different implementation approaches across European countries have hampered the potential of EPCs to increase trust in energy saving measures and accelerate market growth across the EU. The result has been a diverse set of instruments, varying in terms of scope and available information which leads to limited reliability, lack of compliance, and low market penetration and end-user acceptance. A collection of different survey results shows that end-users tend not to trust EPCs in countries where the system is not well-developed, such as Bulgaria and Poland. However, the story is different for countries like Portugal where the system is better designed: the large majority of Portuguese respondents admitted to trusting EPCs for advice on energy renovation.
The challenge for next-generation EPCs to become a catalyst for energy renovations, is to provide a more reliable, standardised service across EU Member States, tailored for end-users. The report suggests several approaches to overcome this challenge. Information on financial support alongside the EPC recommendations, for example, can help persuade building users to undertake energy saving measures. In Scotland, homeowners can access an interest-free loan for energy improvements if they apply for improvements recommended in an EPC. In Portugal, the EPC is used to check conformity with programme requirements, investments needed and potential energy savings, and inform financial institutions.
EPCs can become much more than just an informative tool; they can help building trust and triggering investment in energy saving measures and monitoring the impact of policies and financial support schemes, so it its high time to exploit their potential in light of a fair and just recovery for the EU.