Energy Efficiency - European Governments Not Leading From The Front

European governments are not doing enough to advance energy efficiency in their own buildings.
Published: Fri 12 Jun 2015

In a new report the Coalition for Energy Savings takes European governments to task for failing to show leadership in ending energy waste in their own buildings.

“It would be unfortunate if our governments would not use their powers to invest in saving energy in their buildings and reduce running costs,” said Stefan Scheuer, secretary general of the Coalition for Energy Savings. “This is more than just about applying EU rules, it is about putting energy efficiency first.”

Energy Efficiency Directive requirements

Under the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), European member states are required either to renovate each year (as of 1 January 2014) 3% of the total floor area of central government owned and occupied buildings with a floor area over 500m2 (reducing to 250m2 on 9 July 2015, the default approach), or to take alternative measures that achieve equivalent savings (the alternative approach).

Eleven member states have chosen the default approach, while 17 have opted for the alternative approach.

EED default approach

Of the countries that have chosen the default approach, all 11 have submitted an inventory of building stock, which is a prerequisite. However, the Coalition regards the submissions from only Latvia and Slovenia as being of good quality and fully complying with the reporting obligation. These countries provide full information on the energy consumption of their central government buildings in kWh/m2.

Six countries, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Spain, report energy performance data per building but not for all buildings, while Hungary, Greece and Romania do not present energy performance data per building at all.

EED alternative approach

Countries that opt for the alternative approach need to report an energy savings target, however, according to the Coalition, calculating and proving the equivalence to the default approach is crucial. Out of the 17 countries that have selected the alternative approach, only four – Austria, Croatia, Italy and Slovakia – have correctly calculated and reported the equivalence with cumulative savings over the whole 2014-2020 period. France reports a target that seems inaccurate and too low compared to own calculations. The other countries –  Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands – have reported cumulative annual savings in 2020 (the UK for 2019) or annual targets, while the Czech Republic and Germany have not reported targets at all.

Countries are also required to provide details about the measures they have selected, and are free to select those they consider most appropriate. In practice, this has resulted in most of the countries listing a long series of alternative measures that are a patchwork of separate actions rather than parts of a well-structured strategy for reducing the energy consumption of the central government building stock, according to the Coalition.

Among these the main measures proposed include building renovations and more than half plan to encourage behavioural change.

2014 energy efficiency impacts

Based on the available data the Coalition estimates that in 2014 just over 1 million m2 of floorspace should have been renovated by the countries selecting the default approach, while countries selecting the alternative approach should have achieved savings of approximately 285GWh.

In its conclusions the Coalition states the report shows that most of the inventories and notifications do not put member states on track for a good implementation of Article 5 of the EED and, therefore, they urgently need to step up efforts. The implementation of Article 5 lies within the exclusive responsibility of the national governments, so it is an issue of political will to make it happen.

Further reading

The Coalition for Energy Savings: Implementing the EU Energy Efficiency Directive: Analysis of Member States plans to implement Article 5