In what is called ‘The EU Climate And Energy Package’, European leaders agreed in 2007 on - and enacted in 2009 - a set of targets for Europe to become ‘a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy’. The package is binding legislation with three key objectives for the year 2020:
- Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU to be reduced by 20% from 1990 levels. The EU will increase this number to 30% if other major economies commit to bear their fair share of a global emissions reduction effort;
- The share renewable energy resources in our energy consumption to be increased to 20%;
- The EU's energy efficiency to be improved by 20%.
Several European Directives have been issued in support of this subject: the Energy Services Directive (2006/32/EC), the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU), the ECO-design Directive (2009/125/EC) and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU), among others. Buildings can help in all three targeted areas: improved energy efficiency in buildings (new and existing) has a colossal savings potential. Plus, buildings can generate renewable energy, from solar PV cells or from wind turbines. And both of these, obviously, contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD 2002, strengthened in 2010), is key in this ambition. It requires all EU countries to enhance their regulations on construction methods, to reduce the energy consumption of buildings and to introduce energy certification schemes. All countries must have regular inspections of boilers and air-conditioners. The recast EPBD, adopted in 2010, presents extra tough challenges to the member states: new and retrofitted buildings should be nearly-zero energy by 2020 (2018 in the case of Public buildings), while a cost-optimal methodology for setting minimum requirements for both the envelope and the technical systems must be put in place.
In this context, it is important to know that solar shading will help substantially reduce cooling energy consumption and make better use of free solar energy in the heating season. ES-SO's mission is to ensure that all the relevant parties, from policy makers and politicians to architects and builders, are aware of the contribution solar shading.
The EPBD as a framework Directive has to follow the principle of subsidiarity. Nevertheless, the importance of solar shading is stressed and its considerations is made obligatory.