A key part of the European Union strategy to respond to the challenges of climate change and security of energy supplies is to achieve a substantial improvement in Europe's energy efficiency. Buildings are responsible for over 40% of all energy use and have the potential to deliver the most cost effective contribution of any policy measure aimed at this objective. A new EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings acknowledges that a change in strategy is necessary, requiring each Member State to create a clear legislative framework which will deliver the energy saving potential. The Directive calls for not just mandatory regulation of the energy efficiency of new and refurbished buildings but also, more radically, the energy certification (or labelling) of nearly ALL existing buildings.
With this in mind, the Europrosper team's objective is to improve the energy performance of existing buildings, specifically in the office sector, across the EU by the process of energy audit, benchmarking and certification. The project focuses on office buildings because of the rapid expansion of this type of building in the EU, both in terms of floor area and energy intensity. In addition, there is a wealth of good practice information on achieving lower energy design and operation for this building type.
The concept of benchmarking the energy use of existing office buildings as a tool for saving energy has been promoted for many years in some EU countries, but nevertheless is not widely applied. The europrosper project will make the methods of implementing this good practice procedure accessible to all.
Good practice methods of energy benchmarking office buildings have benefits beyond saving energy cost and reducing CO2 emissions: they can lead to improved thermal and visual comfort for occupants, thereby creating a healthier and more productive working environment and greater occupant satisfaction. All these benefits can lead, in addition, to an increase in the asset value of the building.
The key outcome of the project will therefore be the combination of creating quality assured good practice procedures and a training package that will enable the know-how embodied in the procedures to be disseminated effectively to practitioners in each country.