Commercial buildings to meet energy efficiency laws by 2009

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By 2009 all EU member States should have implemented the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which passed into law in 2002. The directive requires all EU commercial buildings over 1,000 sq m to procure an Energy Performance Certificate when they are bought, sold or let and has to be valid for 10 years.

A report by King Sturge: European Property Sustainability Matters says that although ‘construction now requires far greater energy efficiency, across Europe there is a very mixed and confusing picture as to who is doing what and when governments will implement this directive’.

In France new buildings have had to comply with new legislation and save 15 per cent more energy from 1st September 2006; while, the EPBD in Belgium has been approved since May 2004; in Germany the directive will not be implemented until 2010; the Netherlands aimed to have it completed by January 2007; in Poland by 2009; Ireland from 2008; Spain aims at 2012; and Denmark makes it mandatory from January 2007.

Each EU Member State has set different targets and it is extremely difficult to tell at what level each has met the EPBD. For example in the UK the government has brought in new Building Regulations of which Part L which became effective in April 2006 related to new and refurbished buildings of 1,000 sq m and must show they are 28 per cent more energy efficient than under the previous regulation. The King Sturge Report also points out that there is a new aspect of Part L relating to the consequential improvements to the energy efficiency element.

This meant that: developers refurbishing a property of over 1,000 sq m such as extending, providing fixed building services or increasing the installed capacity of a fixed building service, will be required to ensure that the whole building complies with the new Part L unless ‘it is not technically, functionally and economically feasible’.

Although this is in the spirit of the EPBD not all countries have implemented this particular retrospective action. However it is important to note that all buildings new and old should have an EPC.

For occupiers this uncertainty has led to some just waiting but for many others it has led to a concerted effort to future proof their buildings in a time of uncertainty. Companies such as Wal Mart and DHL are pushing forward with a view to making their facilities as energy efficient as possible. Indeed European-wide developers such as Parkridge (now owned by ProLogis), ProLogis, Gazeley and others are also taking the EPBD seriously, in many cases surpassing the regulated guidelines.

Both ProLogis and Gazeley have just announced carbon plus initiatives in the UK; Gazeley intends to build a 500,000 sq ft shed at its Magna Park Milton Keynes scheme under the Blue Planet initiative which builds on the success of the developer’s Eco template and in addition involves the creation of a micro power plant that runs on bio fuel made by oil seed rape; as well as other initiatives such as solar walls, advanced lighting systems, passive ventilation and state-of-the-art thermal insulation all of which will enable a credit of 14,450 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

ProLogis announced that it would develop the a 530,000 sq ft super green warehouse for Sainsbury’s at its ProLogis Park Pineham development in Northamptonshire allowing the retailer to reportedly shave energy costs by as much as 75 per cent.

The warehouse will have a variety of advanced environmental features such as wall-mounted photovoltaic panels; solar walls; an on-site power plant that reuses the heat produced by air conditioning; an on-site recycling facility; energy efficient lighting systems; and air-tight construction that minimizes energy loss through the external fabric of the building.

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