Why it Matters
In every EU Member State, the energy demand of buildings accounts for between 40% and 50% of total national energy consumption
The majority of EU countries have fallen short of the CO2 emissions savings they should have achieved by now if they are to meet their Kyoto commitments by the target date 2008-2012. On the basis of trends to 1999, only four of the fifteen Member States will meet their targets.Clearly the majority of countries have got to increase their efforts. But what is the scope for doing so in the buildings field? In every EU Member State, the energy demand of buildings accounts for between 40% and 50% of total national energy consumption. In other words, the buildings sector uses as much energy (and generates as much CO2) as transport and industry combined. Therefore, you would expect that national plans for CO2 reduction would achieve at least 40% of their savings from the buildings sector. This is, however, far from the case. An analysis of Member States' plans, conducted by EuroACE, shows that in only UK and Austria do the planned savings from buildings approach 40% of the total planned savings. In all other countries, buildings are under-represented in national plans. Yet the technologies and products needed to improve the energy-efficiency of buildings are developed, proven and widely available. They can achieve significant energy and CO2 savings at zero lifetime cost. Independent research has shown that installing cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in all EU buildings would reduce CO2 emissions by 450 million tonnes per year – which alone would exceed the EU's Kyoto target. Therefore buildings must increasingly become the focus of national plans to reduce CO2 emissions. That is why the new Directive is so essential and so welcome.