Energy Rating Systems in Europe
Reducing greenhouse gases emissions, especially CO2 emissions, is one of the
most important environmental challenges facing the European Union. Under the
Kyoto Protocol, the European authorities have undertaken the challenge to
reduce EU emissions by 8% on average below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. In
order to achieve this target, it is necessary to control domestic energy
consumption, which currently accounts for 40% of the total energy
consumption in Europe. To that end, the EU Directive 2002/91/EC made it
compulsory to set up certification systems, also known as energy rating
systems, to report on energy consumption in buildings. This directive seeks
to unify the criteria among the member States and to apply a common
methodology to calculate the energy performance of buildings. The
requirements of this Directive will have to be transposed into national
legislations by January 2008.
This study analysed the various energy rating systems currently running in
the EU countries. The authors assessed the legislative situation in each
country and calculated the energy consumption under their respective
national regulations. Consequently, the obtained figures were compared among
them taking into account the climatic differences.
The result of this analysis showed that, even though all member states of EU-
15 have established a compulsory maximum heat transmission coefficient
(measure of the building insulation) for new buildings, there are still big
differences with regard to the actual minimum heat insulation levels
required by the Directive. More insulation means less energy loss and,
indirectly, less greenhouse gases emissions.
For the moment, only a few countries have taken their legislation any
further, these being Denmark, the United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands,
Ireland, and Luxembourg. These countries have a more complete energy rating
system, taking into consideration not just building insulation but also
energy for heating, domestic hot water, lighting, and climate control
systems, thus covering overall energy consumption by buildings. The method
used in Belgium, Italy, and Germany is just a more sophisticated version of
the regulations that determine the minimum insulation requirements for outer
walls, not considering heating and hot water systems, or any other factor.
Moreover, Austria, Spain, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Sweden have no
official building energy rating system.
According to the authors, only the Danish system can be considered to be an
adequate energy rating system because it is more constructive than the
others. It provides more information, awards a score based on a more
complete criteria, and proposes alternatives for improving the obtained
This study shows that governments are increasingly interested in bringing
down the CO2 emissions related to household's energy consumption, but
national regulations have only just begun to take shape. The majority of the
countries are still far from meeting the European requirements in this
Source: Miguez J.L. et al. (2006) Review of the energy rating of dwellings
in the European Union as a mechanism for sustainable energy , Renewable and
Sustainable Energy Reviews 10: 24-45.
ZDROJ: Science for Environment Policy, DG Environment, EU
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