In October 2020, The European Commission published a far-reaching strategy known as the Renovation Wave. In working to achieve this objective the EU expects to address many serious societal questions, including how to address the negative impacts of climate change, how to reach the long-term goals of creating a climate-neutral economy, and how to alleviate energy poverty in the process. In the business sector that I represent we welcome this strategy as a step change in the way that the European Union regulates our sector. However, it is only the end of the beginning! … writes Adrian Joyce, Secretary General,EuroACE and Campaign Director, Renovate Europe.
Let me explain. Of high interest within the strategy is the proposal to review the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) during 2021. This, on its own, is a courageous proposal as the last revision of the EPBD was completed just two years ago. Several member states are not yet in full conformity with the revised requirements of the EPBD, so re-opening it now is a brave move.
Among the elements that the Commission intends to propose as changes to the EPBD, we find the following key topics:
• An examination of minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) as a potentially powerful tool to stimulate energy renovation within the EU;
• A review of the methodology for the preparation of energy performance certificates as valuable information tools that can motivate building owners to undertake renovations;
• A stronger financing and funding requirement that will be more strongly tied to achieving measurable results.
All of these measures will have to be carefully designed to ensure that they assist member states in rapidly achieving an increased rate and depth of energy renovation of their building stock. This will inevitably require policy innovations in most member states, especially in relation to the design and phased introduction of MEPS.
The EU’s Green Deal and Renovation Wave initiatives are excellent programmes and will undoubtedly inform and underpin the policies adopted by Ireland as we seek to reduce both our energy use and carbon emissions. For the most part though they focus primarily on heating, cooling and hot water generation. These are indeed major areas of concern, and ones that offer significant potential for savings.
However, lighting offers as much, if not more potential for energy saving and carbon reduction. Lighting impacts every aspect of modern-day living, be it homes, commercial, retail, hospitality, leisure and public buildings, not to mention outdoor lighting. Also, the pace of development is phenomenal with massive gains being made on a regular basis.
Lighting has a major contribution to make in realising the energy saving and carbon reduction objectives of the Climate Action Plan. It can also help Ireland meet its obligations in respect of Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive.
Moreover, with wellbeing now also high on the agenda, especially in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and changed work practices, it offers additional benefits. The non-visual effects of proper lighting levels are critical to good health, promoting sleep and even recovery from illness, in addition to increasing concentration and performance levels
We are currently faced with two crises – the decline of the environment and Covid-19. Lighting is unique in that it offers huge benefits in tackling both at the same time.
The SARS-CoV2 virus which causes Covid-19 has had a significant impact on all aspects of our lives and none more so than on the built environment. Its emergence has highlighted potential long-term risks that have forced many people to rethink what the workplace is. The early signs indicate that much of this change will focus on remote working, but also that the office environment is here to stay and will need to adapt to meet these emerging demands, writes Cian Dowling, Director, Axiseng.
There are several sources of information on how SARS-CoV2 will impact the design and operation of HVAC systems. However, guidance should be taken from recognisable bodies in that field such as CIBSE, REHVA and ASHRAE.
All these bodies have a common thread to their advice which is that increasing ventilation rates in buildings is the most effective means of reducing the risks to occupants. The principle is to dilute and ideally remove airborne pathogens as much as possible, thus reducing the risk to the users of the space.
This will have an impact on the design and operation of existing buildings, largely due to current thinking that SARS-CoV-2 (“the virus”) is more likely to spread from within the building, and not through the supply of external air. Therefore, increasing fresh air into a building is an important element in reducing the risk of spreading the virus.
With the EU’s Green Deal and Renovation Wave initiative now recognising the need for energy saving solutions to also consider health and wellbeing, lighting is fast emerging as a key element in delivering this objective.
It is now well documented that lighting affects everything from peoples’ work performance through to their sleep patterns, and even recovery from illness, an issue that is particularly to the fore as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Consultants are increasingly engaging with lighting specialists when devising lighting solutions, and especially so with experienced firms offering full turnkey services. David Vaughan, Managing Director Lightsolutions, offers some advice.