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New legislation to improve the energy efficiency of buildings

Publication date 28.9.2006 13.13
Press release -

The Finnish Government today presented to Parliament proposals for new legislation regulating the energy efficiency of buildings. The proposals involve new energy certificates for buildings, which would have to be obtained whenever a building is taken into use, sold or rented out. The new certificates would describe buildings' overall energy efficiency, and highlight opportunities for improvements.

Energy certificates would be compulsory for all new buildings, and many existing buildings, but they would be optional for existing detached houses and residential properties consisting of no more than six homes. Certificates would not be required for holiday homes or smaller buildings. Industrial premises, protected buildings and churches would also remain outside the scope of the new scheme.

Energy certificates would remain valid for 10 years for most buildings, and 4 years for new apartment blocks and commercial buildings.

It is expected that a new act on energy certificates will come into force during 2007, with certification required for existing buildings from the beginning of 2009.

Energy certificates to provide vital information on buildings

The new energy certificates will contain useful information to help property owners, buyers and future tenants estimate the energy efficiency of buildings and their future energy costs. Certificates will also indicate where improvements could be made to increase the energy efficiency of buildings - and consequently also their value. Improvements in energy efficiency will particularly benefit property owners.

The new certificates will rate the energy efficiency of buildings on a scale from A-G, similar to the system already used to rate domestic fridges and freezers, with A-rated properties being the most efficient.

Certification costs vary for different building types

It is expected that 10-year energy efficiency certificates will cost approximately 150 euros for new residential properties consisting of up to six homes, while 4-year certificates for new row house and apartment block properties with more than six homes will cost about 200 euros. Certificates for existing residential properties consisting of more than six homes may cost 100-300 euros.

The optional certificates for older detached houses may cost between 250 and 400 euros, depending on the location of the property, the availability of information, and links with wider building surveys conducted to assess the general state of such properties.

Who will issue the certificates?

Certificates for new buildings will be provided by the buildings? designers. Certificates for existing housing companies will be included in the property managers? certificates provided by the property manager or the chairperson of the board of the housing company. The certificates issued in connection with energy efficiency surveys are to be provided by the surveyors.

Separate certificates may only be issued by legally empowered persons with appropriate professional qualifications.

Calculating energy efficiency

A decree covering the evaluation of buildings' energy efficiency will be passed after the new act on energy certification. Evaluations will be based on official estimates or the recorded energy consumption rates of buildings.

According to the proposals, the energy efficiency of new buildings will be calculated on the basis of their predicted energy consumption as specified in connection with the granting of building permits. Existing buildings will be rated according to their recorded energy consumption rates.

When certificates are drawn up on a voluntary basis for existing detached houses or residential properties with no more than six homes, energy efficiency will be estimated according to calculated consumption rates.

The criteria and the scope of the energy efficiency rating scale will also be defined in the new decree. The new legislation will additionally detail how property surveys assessing energy efficiency should be carried out, and specify the qualifications needed by certifiers.
Requirements for air conditioning systems

The new legislation proposed by the Government also includes an additional act on compulsory inspections of the energy efficiency of cooling equipment used in buildings' air conditioning systems. Such inspections would be compulsory for cooling equipment with a nominal cooling efficiency of at least 12 kilowatts, and will only be needed where cooling systems are based on the use of compressors. Such equipment should be duly inspected at least every ten years.

Why is the new legislation needed?

Finland needs to enact new legislation on energy efficiency certificates to meet the requirements of the EU directive on the energy performance of buildings. Such legislation will also aim to promote energy savings that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on imported energy.

The EU directive aims to greatly improve the energy performance of Europe?s buildings, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth over the EU as a whole.

The directive covers three main areas:

* minimum energy efficiency requirements for new buildings and buildings undergoing major renovations
* the adoption of energy certificates for buildings
* periodic inspections of air conditioning equipment

More energy is used in Europe's buildings than by industry or traffic. Buildings account for more than 40% Europe's energy consumption, with two-thirds of this energy used by households. Around 30% of Finland's greenhouse gas emissions are produced in connection with the heating of buildings.

For more information:Helena Säteri, Head of Building Division: tel. +358 9 1603 9668;
mobile +358 40 779 6666. Klaus Frösén, Ministerial Counsellor: tel. +358 9 1603 9682;
mobile +358 50 572 6368