In my earlier blog about EPBD III, I discussed in outline the requirements following from the EU Directive 2018/844. But who or what ensures that these are complied with? What role do the installation owner and the government have in this? I will discuss this in more detail here for the situation in the Netherlands, specifically for the building services (HVAC and related systems).
First the context: the European directive only imposes obligations on member states and does not contain obligations for other parties. In most cases, municipalities are the competent authority for supervision and enforcement of the stated requirements for the energy performance of installations. The province is the competent authority for a small number of (mainly large) companies. Regulations for the energy performance of installations do not stand alone: they fit within a broader framework of regulations aimed at the energy performance of buildings (currently mainly via the Building Decree) and for environmental measures aimed at companies and business processes (mainly via the Activities Decree). Interfaces are BENG, SCIOS, phasing out and environmentally friendly refrigerants, energy saving obligation according to the Activities Decree, EED audits, Ecodesign, PED etc.
The Dutch Climate Agreement therefore announced an integrated enforcement strategy to be developed, which I believe will be quite a challenge given the patchwork of national and European regulations. For the control of the application of the EPBD III, this means that it will presumably be in line with existing enforcement processes:
- Requirements in new construction situations are enforced as much as possible via the existing building application process.
- Other requirements (in existing buildings) are maintained as much as possible through existing processes for environmental requirements. It is up to the enforcer to approach building owners and managers; there is no obligation to report to supervisory authorities (other than for new construction).
In order to be able to perform integrated and efficient supervision of the energy tasks at existing buildings / companies, it is hoped that these tasks will be thoroughly integrated. This prevents multiple supervisors from visiting a company for the same theme.
Representatives of competent authorities and commercial interest groups are working together on an enforcement protocol, with the emphasis on obligations for existing buildings. This is because enforcement in existing buildings is complicated due to the lack of a permit or notification requirement. This protocol must ensure uniformity in the implementation; provide information about which buildings can be subject to obligations and information sources that can be consulted for enforcement and finally make recommendations on combining enforcement of requirements arising from the EPBD III with other energy-related enforcement tasks. , such as standard measures, energy label C obligation for offices and the EED audit.
Effective enforcement requires insight into the installations already present in buildings and to which requirements apply. The data required for this is not always available or easily accessible to enforcers. Think primarily of the capacities of heating and air-conditioning installations in existing buildings, and specifically in which buildings installations with more than 70 kW and more than 290 kW nominal capacity are installed. Reports from previous inspections and new inspections will be used for the data build-up, but this certainly does not apply to all buildings and installations. There is still a lot of work to be done for the supervisory authorities on this point. In the enforcement of the EPBD requirements in existing buildings, priority is therefore expected to be given to target groups. Looking successively at buildings of companies and institutions that already fall under regular supervision, then at buildings of companies and institutions subject to a permit (read: the larger buildings and installations) and finally the other buildings, for which an estimate must first be made of the applicable requirements on the basis of key figures.
As a result, an interesting situation now arises regarding existing building services. In the case of large companies and buildings, due to the already ongoing supervision and the available information, more or earlier checks may be carried out than at the small companies and authorities, where enforcement can only be done in response to complaints. This does not change the fact that as an installation owner it is wise and ultimately cost-effective to include and apply the EPBD III already in all building modifications and upgrades.