The increasing importance of energy efficiency measures is reflected in a number of EU-directives introduced in the past ten years, obliging member countries to comply with a minimum standard in their procurement and investments.
The EU-Energy Efficiency Directive (EED, Directive 2012/27/EU) covers the renovation of existing public buildings. The Directive’s Article 5 underlines the importance of leading by example and thus introduces the obligation to annually renovate 3% of the buildings owned and occupied by central governments, starting with January 2014. In addition, energy efficiency aspects must be included in public procurement procedures, making sure public authorities acquire energy efficient buildings, products and services. In addition, governments are given the leading role in refurbishing the existing building stock.
Complementing the requirements set out under the EED regarding buildings owned and occupied by public authorities, the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD, Directive 2010/31/ EU) obliges the Member State to make sure that “after 31 December 2018, new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities, are nearly zero-energy buildings”.
European Structural and Investment Funds
The European Structural and Investment Funds are the largest source of public funding dedicated to energy efficiency. In the CEE Region, European funds can be accessed through around 50 operational programs, which cumulate 8.7 billion EUR dedicated to improving energy efficiency.
Most of these funds are awarded as non-repayable grants, although financial instruments – such as guarantees for loans – are gaining ground. The lion’s share of the funds target projects developed for the public sector, followed by refurbishing projects for the residential sector. Some of the Member States in the CEE region also offer energy efficiency funding to SMEs or large companies that invest in energy efficiency.
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s main funding program for research and innovation, also for research projects related to energy efficiency. With a generous budget of over 80 billion EUR for the period 2014-2020, it offers funding to the most innovative initiatives aiming to solve challenges in the eligible sectors, including energy efficiency.