Will the Commission’s winter package lift Europeans out of energy poverty?

The European Commission is set to table innovative plans to measure the energy efficiency of buildings, it has emerged.

Called “smartness indicators”, the scheme is similar to that used to gauge the energy efficiency of everyday household items such as fridges and washing machines.

The proposal is contained in the so called ‘winter package’, which the Commission will present on Wednesday.

Speaking at an event in Parliament on Monday, Vasco Ferreira, buildings team acting leader in the Commission’s energy directorate, said, “These smartness indicators will assess how a building can manage itself and also how it ‘interacts’ with both the occupants of that building and the energy grid.

“You can liken these indicators to the energy efficiency labels used for fridges and washing machines.

“It means that when someone buys or rents a property they will have all the information they might need as to the energy efficiency of that property.”

He said the Commission proposes to launch a study into the scheme in January with the aim of introducing a formal legislative proposal in about 18 months.

Under the plans to be released this week, the EU will compel owners of public buildings to divulge data on the energy consumption of their properties, he said.

The official was speaking at a debate on the energy efficiency of buildings, timed to coincide with the announcement of the winter package this week.

Another speaker, UK Socialist MEP Theresa Griffin, said she hoped the package will include proposals to lift Europeans out of “energy poverty.”

She defined this as having a choice between “heating or eating” and said it was “incumbent” on all parties, including the EU, to take steps to tackle “this disgraceful situation where millions of people have to choose between heating their homes or eating.”

Griffin, a member of Parliament’s internal market committee, also called on the Commission to increase its energy efficiency saving targets from the proposed 27 per cent to 40 per cent.

The deputy told the debate that, in doing so, this would enable three million citizens and seven million households to move out of “energy poverty.”

“I am looking forward to an ambitious review of the energy efficiency directive,” she said.

Further comment came from Paul Wade, a UK based energy expert, who said that “huge” savings could be made in energy consumption but that this benefit was being “squandered” because of various barriers.

He said, “I welcome the Commission’s winter package although, from what I can see from the leaks of it, there is nothing in it about access to funding.”

Another speaker, Constance Picking, of Honeywell, said that big savings in household energy bills could be made by replacing old heating systems in homes.

“The EU’s energy efficiency targets could be met by 2030 if just 25-30 of old heating systems were replaced,” she noted.

The event was organised by the European Automation and Controls Association, which represents manufacturers of products and systems for home and building automation.


Appeared in Parliament Magazine

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine