European policymakers have recently endowed us with new climate targets for 2030, taking European citizens and companies steadily closer to making climate-neutrality by 2050 achievable. While this significant stride forward is great news, headline targets such as these are not sufficient to enact change on their own. The attainment of our new climate targets relies on sectoral legislation delivered in a piece-meal fashion. This summer already saw proposals for Directives on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as well as a new regulation aimed at facilitating the decarbonisation of the transport sector.
Coming up next, towards the end of the year, is the proposal for a revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which will be the main measure to decarbonise buildings, albeit complemented by the aforementioned Directives. This will be a key legislation for electrical contractors, heavily involved in the building sector. Indeed, electrification is poised to enable a significant share of emission reductions in building’s energy consumption, thanks to more efficient electrified devices coupled with the smart management of their electricity consumption and enabled by on-site renewable electricity generation.
At EuropeOn, the European representatives of electrical contractors, we have set out our members’ main recommendations for this Directive to set out the best path towards the decarbonisation of our building stock. Electrical contractors employ the 1.8 million professionals who install and maintain the electric devices and systems that power our buildings and lifestyles and that will contribute heavily to making our buildings Paris-compliant. We have streamlined our feedback for this effort in 4 main recommendations to feed into the revision of the EPBD, and amend it to make it “Fit for 55”:
- investing in the modernisation and safety of electrical systems in buildings,
- making buildings ready for the e-mobility surge,
- mainstreaming Building Automation and Control Systems (BACS) in buildings and facilitating access to their data,
- reshaping the Primary Energy Factor (PEF) to remove inconsistencies and improve energy performance of buildings.
Our 4 recommendations are tailored to a vision of green, digital and efficient buildings, that are future-proofed to still stand in 2050. This vision starts with our buildings’ electrical systems that should be modernised to handle the increased level of electrification necessary for zero-emission buildings and ensure the safety and efficiency of electricity systems.
Future-proofed buildings must also integrate transport into their energy planning. As the future of mobility (or at least personal mobility) is set to be electric, consumers need to be reassured that they will be able to charge their vehicles at home. Fortunately, this can be done cost-effectively by providing at least ducting for all parking spaces so that EV users only have to install a cable and charger in their space.
Automation will ensure that electricity consumption remains as efficient as possible, maximising energy savings and minimising energy bills. A high level of automation will also bring further comfort and engagement to consumers who are increasingly enthused by smart devices and their novel functions.
Finally, in order to incentivise clean, smart and efficient buildings, the Primary Energy Factor for grid electricity must be at least reviewed. It currently puts electricity at a disadvantage compared to fossil fuels, which is, to say the least, counter-productive as we aim to become carbon-neutral. Further, rising gas prices have recently sparked public outcry and made headlines as some consumers face much higher energy bills, making it all the more important to end our reliance on imports of fossil fuels and start to value our own, locally produced, clean electricity.
However, reaching climate-neutrality is heavily reliant on a highly skilled workforce that is currently not available in sufficient numbers. In order to make the EPBD a success, the EU and national governments will still have to ensure that enough skilled workers are available to make the green and digital transitions a reality.
Read more on the need for strengthened skills provisions in the Fit for 55 package here.