Legislation paves way to improved energy efficiency in buildings

A 25 to 30% improvement in the energy performance of buildings over present ratings can be expected when revised Building Regulations come into effect by the end of 2005, according to Alan Aldridge, executive director of the Energy Systems Trade Association. He was speaking at the London event of a series of nationwide seminars organised by ESTA ‘Keep your eye on the ball’. While such a major reduction in the energy used by buildings would provide significant support to the Government’s aim of reducing UK carbon emissions by 20% by 2010, Alan Aldridge warned that the effect of carbon taxes on energy will reduce, or exceed, these savings. He expects energy prices generally to rise by 7 to 8%, but warns that some forecasts suggest a 40% rise. Also impacting on building energy consumption is the European Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD). It is already EU law and due to become UK law by 4 January 2006. Directly relevant to the 40% of UK energy consumption that is due to buildings, the directive provides a method of calculating energy performance. It also requires, explained Alan Aldridge, Building Regulations to be reviewed every five years — not on an ad-hoc basis as at present. He further explained that the directive sets minimum performance standards for new and refurbished building over 1000 m2 and that such buildings occupied by public authorities or providing public services to a large number of people will have to display an energy-performance certificate no older than 10 years. Regular inspection of energy performance will be required for boilers and heating systems and for air-conditioning systems. Alan Aldridge highlighted two ratings required by the directive. The first is an ‘asset rating’ based on the inherent efficiency of the building. The second is the performance or operational rating derived from measured energy consumption. ‘It is very significant that we have these two ratings,’ he said. ‘The asset rating could be better than the operational rating. This is the first time that we will have to identify these figures, so that we can identify the savings from energy-efficiency measures.’ He welcomes the EPBD as a opportunity to reassess the value of building assets on the basis of environmental performance.
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