NHS European Office

Climate and Energy

hospital corridor

EU Climate and Energy Strategy 2030

In October 2014 the EU Member States agreed on a 2030 Framework for climate and energy, including EU-wide targets and policy objectives for the period between 2020 and 2030. These targets aim to help the EU achieve a more competitive, secure and sustainable energy system and to meet its long-term 2050 greenhouse gas reductions target.

Targets for 2030

  • a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels
  • at least a 27% share of renewable energy consumption
  • at least 27% energy savings compared with the business-as-usual scenario

Policies for 2030

To meet the targets, the European Commission proposed a package of measures in November 2016, which includes revisions of the existing EU Directives on Energy Efficiency and on Energy Performance in Buildings. Both Directives are very relevant to NHS trusts which, as large contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, are called to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint.

The NHS European Office will analyse the proposals in depth to understand their implications from an NHS perspective, with the aim of informing EU decision-makers of NHS views.

2012 Energy Efficiency Directive

The Directive on energy efficiency was agreed at EU level in October 2012. The Directive brought forward legally binding measures to step up Member States’ efforts to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain – from the transformation of energy and its distribution, to its final consumption.

Under the revised Directive, central government bodies are required to lead by example in their approach to energy efficiency and will be obliged to renovate 3% of the total floor area of heated and/or cooled buildings owned and occupied by them, annually from 1 January 2014. However, Member States also have the option of adopting an alternative approach whereby other cost-effective measures may be carried out, instead of the 3% renovation, provided they achieve an equivalent level of energy consumption savings.

The Directive encourages NHS organisations to make energy savings where possible, but does not mandate them to comply with the 3% renovation rate which would apply to central government buildings. Similarly, they are recommended to consider energy efficiency in their procurement strategies.

The agreed text reflects recommendations put forward by the NHS European Office during the decision-making process and represents a positive opportunity to encourage and support further energy efficiency measures within the NHS.

Member States had until mid 2014 to implement the Directive.  

2010 Energy Performance in Buildings Directive  

EU rules on energy performance in buildings, agreed in June 2010, aim to help Europe achieve a 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 and place particular emphasis on public sector leadership on this issue. NHS views were taken on board by decision-makers particularly with regard to the timetable for implementing the new requirements, the display of energy certificates in infrequently visited buildings, and the need for stakeholder consultation.

Under the rules, EU Governments are required to establish national action plans to pave the way for all new public sector buildings to be “nearly zero energy” by 2018, with other new buildings following this example by 2020.  A “nearly zero energy” building is defined as one that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should to a very significant extent be covered by energy from renewable sources, including renewable energy produced on-site or nearby.

The agreement on the Directive addressed concerns raised by the NHS about the need for a more feasible timetable for implementation, particularly with regard to the energy certification of buildings. Although energy certification is to be extended to smaller public sector buildings, this will be phased in more gradually than originally proposed. Under the rules, all buildings over 500m2 which are occupied by a public authority and frequently visited by the public had to be issued with an energy performance certificate two years after the law entered into force in June 2010. From 2015, the threshold was lowered to include buildings over 250m2.

Other key points agreed include minimum energy efficiency requirements for all major renovations, requirements to consider alternative energy systems for all new builds, and strengthened inspection requirements for heating and air conditioning systems. National governments also have obligations to inform the public and stakeholders about energy efficiency measures, consult stakeholders on the development of the national action plans, and prepare a list of financial and other incentives available to help with the transition to more energy efficient buildings.

The agreed rules had to be transposed into UK law by July 2013.

Complying with the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive –Government Video Guidance

The Government issued several online videos offering guidance on compliance with the requirements of EU legislation on the energy performance of buildings.  Of particular relevance to NHS trusts, guidance is available on the rules relating to the phasing in of inspections for air conditioning systems. The current UK rules require inspections of all air conditioning systems over 12kw .

Video guidance is also available on Display Energy Certificates  which are currently required for all public sector buildings over 1000 square metres that are frequently accessed by large numbers of people. View these videos on the Communities and Local Government website

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