A new EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive comes into effect in July. But is the UK prepared for it?

The original EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2002. Among other things it required all member states to introduce mandatory energy performance standards for new buildings (and consequential improvement requirements for non-dwellings). It also resulted in the implementation of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for all buildings being sold or rented and the introduction of Display Energy Certificates (DECs) in public buildings. The EPBD has had a huge impact in terms of delivering a transformation in the market for energy efficiency measures across the EU.

However, the European Commission recognised that much more remained to be done and in July 2010 a recast version of the EPBD came into force with the objective of closing a number of loopholes and tightening-up a number of the original EPBD requirements.

The first thing the UK government did in anticipation of the new EPBD requirements was to wind-up the Directive Implementation Advisory Group (DIAG), which had worked with government from 2002 in developing the proposals for successful implementation of the original directive.

For those of us involved in DIAG (I chaired the group which had 25 members representing all the major relevant professional institutions and trade associations) the government’s decision to stop engaging with industry seemed very odd and a number of organisations expressed grave misgivings.

Those early concerns appear well founded. By June 2011 EU member states had to draw up “a list of proposed measures which promote the objectives of this Directive and shall communicate these lists to the Commission ” (as required by Article 14(2) of Directive 2006/32/EC). But curiously, the updated UK National Energy Efficiency Action Plan published in July 2011 makes no reference to the new EPBD requirements.

More worryingly, by the 9 July 2012 member states are required to publish and adopt the “laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with Articles 2 to 18 and Articles 20 to 27”. Member States are required (Article 21) to “consult all stakeholders” prior to implementation, but with the deadline only two months away and no consultation having yet taken place, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the UK is going to be compliant.

Even Latvia and Lithuania have their plans in place and Scotland looks as if it will also be ready – but not England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

For an administration which claims to be the “greenest government ever” the lack of enthusiasm for consultation on implementing the amended directive, and its reluctance to engage constructively with industry bodies such as DIAG, speaks volumes.