Cooling and heating account for 50% of the EU’s annual energy consumption and much of this is wasted. To tackle the issue, the European Commission has produced its first-ever EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling, setting out a series of proposals to make heating and cooling more efficient and sustainable.
One of the strategy’s initiatives centres on the renovation of multi-apartment buildings. This would include looking at insulation materials and utilising modern heating and cooling equipment, such as heat pumps. To improve building efficiency, another proposal is for the reliability of energy performance certificates – due to be assessed in a review of the Energy Performance Buildings Directive – to be strengthened. This would have a dual benefit – it would provide clear information to consumers regarding a building’s renewable energy as well as creating market signals for a more widespread use of renewable energy in the buildings.
The EC’s strategy document also looked specifically at energy efficiency in publicly owned buildings and hospitals. It proposed the promotion of proven energy-efficiency models to provide authorities with guidance on how to use energy service companies and public procurement contracts to make buildings more energy-efficient. The non-legislative action would also help authorities in the process of installing heating and cooling systems provided by clean renewable energy sources.
Along with measures to boost the energy efficiency of buildings, the EC strategy also sets out to encourage reuse of industry-generated waste heat and waste cold utilising various technologies. One of these would be direct feed via district heating systems, accessed by buildings via a district network. Proposals also include integrating electricity systems with heating and cooling systems.
Now that the EC strategy is published, it will be interesting to see which member states will put it into practice – and when.