Building impetus

The previous Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio stated: ‘This directive is a key part of our strategy to improve security of supply. Proper saving and efficiency will enable us to cut consumption by about 22%’. The ‘Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings’, as it is officially called, essentially provides for measures in four key areas:

Performance calculation

Every country must define a means of calculating energy performance of buildings within a common EU framework. In order to compare the performance, the calculation method must be the same on the national as on the regional level, and it must take into account all the factors that influence energy consumption.

Minimum standards

The Directive obliges each Member State to establish minimum standards for energy efficiency. Some standards will apply to new constructions, others to large-scale renovations for buildings of more than 1000 m2. In case of renovation, technological and economic feasibility must be taken into account in bringing them fully up to standard.

Boilers and air-conditioners

Regular inspections of installations above a certain size are required. In the case of air-conditioners, the threshold is 12 kW, and for boilers 20 kW. According to the Directive, all boilers above 100 kW need to be inspected at least once every two years (for gas boilers, this period may be extended to four years; no inspection frequency has been specified for 20–100 kW boilers). This sort of system already exists in many Member States and is now to be extended to the entire European Union.

Certification and display

The Directive will introduce a system of buildings certification, an idea which is based directly upon the system in place for electric household goods. In the same way that the level of energy consumption is displaced on a refrigerator, so will every building be given a very simple certificate indicating its overall energy consumption. To make the public more conscious about energy savings, large buildings with many visitors will have to display their certificate.

transition to more energy-efficient district heating


A district heating substation has been installed at an apartment building in Moscow under ‘The Intelligent House’ project

As the 21st century dawned, many people expected Russia’s enormous district heating network to modernize rapidly. Many successful initiatives have been undertaken so far, but the process still has not entered a stable phase. For real change to start, the country must warm to energy efficiency first, writes Mikhail Shapiro.

District heating supplies more than 70% of Russian households with heat and hot water. In a country with around 145 million inhabitants, this reveals the existence of a gigantic market for district heating. A total of 485 CHP plants, more than 190,000 large boilers, and more than 600,000 individual heat generators and boilers, are together generating district heating equivalent to 2.7 million GWh each year.

Russia’s district heating network is believed to have a total length of 1.8 million kilometres, and one big problem to solve in the coming years is that a major part of the network consists of uninsulated pipes.

Furthermore, Russia has not conventionally used decentralized thermostatic heating regulators in public buildings or in residential houses. This means that the most common method of regulating indoor temperatures has been – and still is – by opening and closing the windows, which is causing a massive loss of heat. It is difficult to access the total loss of heat from Russian district heating due to the sparsity of systematic metering on the supply and consumer side, but in most systems losses are estimated to be in the range of 20%–70%.1

The most common method of regulating indoor temperatures has been by opening and closing the windows  

As a result of this considerable loss of heat in the supply chain, the production price of heat remains high. This has traditionally led the municipal authorities to subsidize district heating in order to reach an acceptable market price for the consumers, and has naturally limited the consumers’ incentives to care about their own heat consumption.

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