A GREEN DEAL, A HALLMARK TO MAKE EUROPE WORLD’S FIRST CLIMATE NEUTRAL CONTINENT

flag 1219One of the first challenges of the new incoming EU Commission is to prepare the next steps for Europe to become climate neutral by 2050. President Ursula von der Leyen announced a Green Deal package by March 2020 with the first European Climate Law to make climate neutrality to become irreversible. The challenges ahead for Europe take part of a broader world wide discussion being undertaken at the UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 (2-13 December 2019). New figures from the latest Emissions Gap Report of the UN Environment Programme noted that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 1.5 % a year over the last decade. Worldwide, the last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. At current trends, we are staring at global heating of between 3.4 and 3.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Heating and cooling take half of the energy consumption in Europe, 80% of which is being used in buildings. In 2018 the revised Renewable Directive included for member states a new indicative target of 1,3% per year more renewables to solve the heating and cooling energy consumption. However, in buildings energy efficiency measures are the first to be used, with essentially to get the building envelope right.

MESSAGE TO REGULATORS

leaving 1219A housing renovation plan will no doubt be the ‘flagship’ of the European Green Deal. It is essential to include the already adopted EU guidelines for member states implementing the revised EPBD, in particular, “measures to adapt buildings to climate change, such as shading devices that prevent buildings from overheating during heat waves, which are systems that have a direct impact on the energy consumption of buildings by limiting the need for active cooling.”

CLIMATE CHANGE STARTS TO MOVE POLICY MAKERS TO A JUST TRANSITION FOR CITIZENS

The city of Vienna in Austria gives citizens financial stimuli to include shading in their building renovation

“The increase in the number of hot days in recent years calls for climate-friendly measures that give concrete support to the citizens of Vienna,” said Mayor Michael Ludwig.” Exterior shading such as blinds, shutters and awnings are therefore really efficient to reduce at low cost the overheating in dwellings”. The financial incentive from the city is 50% of the investment with a maximum of 1500 euro per building unit (appartment). The subsidy runs from December until 2025 and will be used for shading applied on 20 year old dwellings.

Italy continues to support citizens using energy savings measures

Italy has for some years now a tax deduction for mobile solar shading in dwellings. The tax deduction in 2019 is 50% of the cost of mobile solar shading and can be recovered by the consumer over a period of 10 years. The success of the measure speaks for itself: in 2018 tax deductions were requested for 160 million euros. For 2020 it may be expected that this fiscal incentive will be prolonged as a succesfull means to reduce the energy consumption for active cooling in dwellings.

Czech Republic puts forward shading to avoid overheating in dwellings

In Eastern-Europe Czechia is a forerunner when it comes to the recognition of shading as a passive measure for overheating in dwellings. Since end of 2018 the government provides financial incentives, in particular 20 €/m2 for manual shading and 40 €/m2 for automated shading.

CLIMATE CHANGE TRIGGERS EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO REVISE THEIR BUILDING REGULATION AND PRACTICES

The Netherlands introduce legal requirements on overheating in dwellings
As from July 2020 the Dutch building regulation will include a separate requirement for overheating. For new dwellings a building permit would be refused if they exceed a certain overheating limit value during 450 hours/year. As a consequence, shading will have to be integrated already in the building concept.

United Kingdom and the Future Homes Standard
The U.K. Building Regulations Part L and Part F are under review in the new Future Homes Standard Consultation document. This document identifies that new regulations are likely to be introduced regarding overheating in new homes. The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have produced two reports about the impact of overheating on new homes in the U.K.. Particularly, with identifying that the use of air conditioning across the UK is likely to increase, the health of occupants will be affected if nothing is done, that work productivity will also be negatively affected. To counter this, the new regulation aims to encourage passive methods of mitigating the overheating risk such as internal and external solar shading. The British Blind and Shutter Association is part of the Building Regulation Advisory Committee which contributes evidence as to how shading can help prevent overheating in new homes.

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Read more on the research reports on overheating in new homes.

Switzerland looks at solar shading and natural ventilation in residential buildings to make them fit for global warming
“ClimaBau – Planen angesichts des Klimawandels” is a study finalised in 2018 from the Lüzern Hochschule, which assessed the impact of climate change on the energy demand and thermal comfort in residential buildings in Switzerland until 2100. The results show that the heating demand will be reduced by 20-30% whereas cooling demand will increase exponentially, reaching half of the heating demand. Automation, windows and their openings together with solar shading – will be key aspects to consider in order to plan buildings that are fit for future warmer climate conditions.