Various tools, methods standards and certificates exist to make energy perfor-mance visible, in new builds and retrofits. Navigating the maze of what is manda-tory and optional as well as what makes the most sense locally can be difficult – especially given differing national and even regional requirements. The streamlining of energy performance certificates and the methodology behind them would be a step in the right direction, but how do such mandatory certificates stack up against more ambitious performance standards?
This online Working Group on buildings with and for municipalities was organised in collaboration with the outPHIT project during Climate Alliance International Conference. At this meeting, participants discussed EPCs as policy tools; how they can be used, how they should be used and how other standards such as the Passive House standards relate to them.
ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATES AS POLICY TOOLS FOR MUNICIPALITIES
Domen Bančič, Institute for Innovation and Development, University of Ljubljana
An overview of how complex the landscape is nationally and how energy performance certificates are being exploited to design renovation and sustainable building policies at the municipal level, asking the question of how to develop them in the future. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are social objects, not just technical tools. Thus it is important to focus on people-centred development of EPCs and understand how EPCs influence the construction market and how can they help their users to understand the characteristics of the building they refer to. In order to reach climate neutrality, municipalities should motivate people to renovate their buildings and thus achieve higher energy efficiency of the building stock. Making EPCs more user-friendly and easily understandable supports the renovation and/or building process between experts and non-experts. A key ques-tion for the future use of EPCs is: how can EPCs used to build trust in renovations and shift priorities. The crossCert project set out to explore this key question.
Are there any differences in how different countries see and use EPCs?
Yes, especially as they have different histories in terms of their imple-mentation in each country and even on the regional level. Northern countries typically already had a system in place, whereas EPCs were the first such system for many countries in the South. In Germany, for example, higher energy performance comes with higher rental or selling prices.
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND IN BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLES
Jan Steiger, Passive House Institute
EPC’s form the basis in many respects, but some standards that go above and beyond the basics. Jan Steiger looked into how they add up a focus on the Passive House standard for new builds as well as EnerPHit for renovations – perhaps the most ambitious international performance-based building standards. He gave an overview of the standards and what it takes to reach them – high levels of insula-tion and airtightness, tripled-paned windows (in most climates), ventilation with heat recovery and thermal bridge free (or reduced) planning. These standards form the basis of the outPHit project and its case studies. The idea – energy efficiency first and foremost, combined with renewables whenever possible.
Is there an overview of how much (roughly, on average) extra a Passive House building costs compared to a German, low-energy kfw55 house? How long is the payback period on a Passive House?
There is a study done about 10 yrs ago showing that the cheapest renovation was the highest standard. It really depends on the building design though. Typically, you can expect ca. 5 % additional cots for a Passive House, but it depends on the design. If it pays off financially depends how long you live in the building. The economic viability over 20-30 , it also depends on funding/subsidies.
During the discussion it was highlighted that in Germany, only politicians can push the importance of such measuring instruments. Thoughts on how can we promote more rigourous standards were exchanged: we need to focus on the particular groups that make up the EPC system and think about if we have these tools. Difficulties include the differences across EU countries, which crossCert is trying to overcome. We don’t need a perfect EPC, the idea is to have it like an identity card to understand how my building performs and to be an indicator of the quality of the property. The key to make EPCs better used is communication: it can be done by the municipalities, real estate agents, architects – people who understand what the EPC expresses and who are communicators. As long as we don’t have this communication working, it will just be piece of papers. Perhaps we need to also focus on the players surrounding/using the EPC system.
It was also highlighted that if an EPC doesn’t tell me what I am getting, then it is not a good communication tool. An EPC or any communication tool can only be as good as the data it is based on.
To further deepen this it was highlighted that people are an important element of the EPC system. They can explain what is in the EPCs and what is is good for. The EPC assessors / energy advisors who understand the technical side as well. It was added that both EPCs and certificates of other types are necessary. It is confusing in Germany that funding standards have no clear indication of the energy demand of the concrete building but it is a referential building. It is not clear how that is related to the real performance. If I look at an EPC I want to know what this building will cost me if I look at my energy bills.