Europe’s buildings emit 36% of CO2 emissions in Europe, and energy consumption by this sector has been increasing in recent decades. EU policymakers have long recognised the importance of energy-efficient buildings in mitigating climate change – starting with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in 2002 (revised in 2010) and most recently with the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) – but capturing that potential has posed a challenge. While the efficiency of new buildings has improved over time, most of Europe’s existing building stock – over 90% of the total – has yet to be affected by energy performance requirements. Member States have a high degree of freedom in implementing EU regulations, and implementation frequently falls short of the intent of the legislation – i.e., saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, while countries have to report their implementation progress to the EU, these reports often are not detailed enough and/or paint an overly rosy picture. It is very difficult to get a realistic view of how and to what degree policies for the building sector have any impact. At the same time, statistical data about the energy performance of buildings and related indicators is patchy at best in most EU countries. Step 1: Get the data Without detailed, relevant information about building energy performance and implementation at the country level, policymakers will not be able to monitor whether regulations and programmes have the intended effects, implementing agencies will not have sufficient information about best-practice strategies, and businesses will not be able to plan their activities in a strategic way. Creating transparency and delivering reliable information is therefore essential for the development of a well-functioning market for energy efficiency in buildings across Europe. Recognising this situation, the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) undertook a European survey in 2011 to collect all relevant data about the building stock and to document the state of policy implementation. The results, covering all 27 EU member states as well as Switzerland and Norway, were summarised in report titled Europe’s Buildings under the Microscope. Step 2: Make the data accessible In 2012, BPIE went the next step, developing and launching www.buildingsdata.eu, a comprehensive website containing all the facts and figures collected for the 2011 study, including energy statistics as well as information on key legislation, financial schemes, and building code requirements. This interactive data hub gives EU and national policymakers, technical experts, building professionals, researchers, academics, consultants, NGOs, and others concerned with building energy efficiency the ability to access country profiles, search specific parameters, generate overviews and graphs as well as screen the underlying data. The tool also allows for cross-country comparisons and cost-free downloads. Step 3: Fill the gaps and connect the dots While the new website represents a huge advance in knowledge sharing, there is still much work to be done. BPIE’s 2011 study revealed significant data gaps, which it is now seeking to address. In the coming years, BPIE will:

  • Monitor implementation of key legislation related to the energy performance of buildings, mainly the EPBD and EED, as well as related programmes and initiatives.
  • Document the effectiveness of these policies in improving the energy performance of buildings, by collecting relevant data about the building stock.
  • Create transparency about best-practice implementation of policies by documenting and sharing relevant activities in Member States.
  • Support Member States in fulfilling their reporting obligations to the European Commission by working closely with the EC and forums like Concerted Action to align its survey design with the reporting requirements.
  • Time the survey process and design the questions to fit the policy cycles and reporting requirements defined in the legislation.
  • Add new aspects to the survey as appropriate.

By strengthening the development and implementation of buildings efficiency policies that work, these efforts will help reduce CO2 emissions in Europe. Explore BPIE’s data hub for the energy performance of buildings. Download other BPIE publications.