EnEV, Germany’s Energy Saving Ordinance, is something that everyone in Germany’s real estate industry is familiar with. After all, around 25% of the country’s carbon emissions come from residential and office buildings. For non-German speakers it’s not always easy to understand the Energy Saving Ordinance, which is why we’ve put together an outline of how these important regulations have evolved over the years and an insight into what changes are on their way. Read on to find out more.
Origins of EnEV
Way back in 2002, the EU issued a directive with the snappy title “Energy efficiency: energy performance of buildings” (2002/91/EG) which required EU member states to introduce and apply minimum standards for the energy performance of new and existing buildings, certify buildings’ energy performance and ensure that heating and air conditioning systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Prior to 2002, Germany had separate regulations for thermal insulation and heating systems (WschV and HeizAnlV), which were first tied together in the first Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV). By 2007, the EnEV, after a couple of interim revisions, finally legislated for the full implementation of the 2002 EU directive.
Germany, like all other EU countries, has to meet targets on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. On the supply side, the government has introduced a wide range of measures to reduce dependency on oil, coal and gas. On the demand side, massive strides have been made to increase energy efficiency (consumer goods, vehicles, etc) and thereby cut back on consumption. Household appliances now use a fraction of the energy they used to; public transport increasingly uses hybrid or electric vehicles; and carbon offsetting (e.g. in the form of emissions trading schemes) has to some degree pushed industry to lessen its impact on the environment. Against this background, it’s no surprise that the German government also took action to drastically improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Hence EnEV, which established:
- minimum standards for the thermal insulation of building envelopes (new-builds and renovated buildings)
- minimum standards for the energy efficiency of heating systems
From the first EnEV in 2002 there have been three updates. Each new EnEV (2007, 2009 and 2013/4) has been a combination of fine-tuning existing regulations and broadening their scope with raising standards and introducing completely new regulations.
For example, EnEV 2007 simply restated many of the 2002 regulations without change, whilst at the same time extending energy-efficiency requirements to non-residential buildings, establishing “energy performance certificates” (Energieausweis) to rate the energy consumption of existing buildings and specifying inspection and evaluation procedures for thermal insulation, heating and air conditioning systems.
The aim of the 2009 regulations was to reduce energy, heat and warm-water consumption in buildings by around 30%. For example, the maximum permitted primary energy demand for new-builds and renovated existing buildings was cut by an average of 30%, with a further 30% cut planned for 2012. Heat insulation standards for building envelopes were raised by 15%. Air conditioning systems that had an impact on air humidity had to be fitted with active humidification and dehumidification systems. Monitoring procedures were also strengthened and harmonised financial penalties for breaching the regulations were introduced.
Sometimes referred to as EnEV 2013 (because the German parliament approved the regulations on 21 November, 2013), but more widely known as EnEV 2014 (because the regulations came into force in 2014), new emissions and energy-efficiency targets were set, including the aim of carbon-neutral buildings by 2050. EnEV 2014 redefined the energy ratings for buildings (redrawing the rating system’s bands) and specified that the primary energy consumption of new-builds would have to be cut by another 25% from 01.01.2016. The role of the energy certificates was also strengthened, and the extent of the information they contain was also broadened to include more detailed information on heating systems, energy sources, actual energy consumption and year of construction. These more extensive certificates also had to be made available to new tenants and house and condominium buyers much earlier in the letting or sale process. In addition, oil and gas boilers that are more than 30 years old and provide central heating in apartment buildings need to be replaced. Fines for breaching the regulations were also increased to €50,000.
Exceptions to EnEV
Not all new and renovated buildings have to meet the requirements set out in the Energy Saving Ordinance. Exemptions exist for:
- listed buildings, as long as an exception has been granted by the competent national authority,
- buildings that are mainly used for animal husbandry (e.g. stables, barns, etc.),
- large premises that have to be kept open on a daily basis (e.g. train stations, airports, churches, etc.),
- underground structures,
- spaces where plants are grown and sold (e.g. greenhouses, etc.)
- air-supported structures, tents and similar buildings that must be built and disassembled on a regular basis (e.g. circus tents, marquees, etc.).
Newspaper front pages are currently dominated by the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris and the measures being discussed to cut carbon dioxide emissions, limit global temperature increases to 2°C and decarbonise energy generation. It’s not clear yet what concrete targets will be announced, but the German government already offers cheap loans and other support to encourage energy-efficient construction and renovation via the state-owned KfW Bank (originally established in 1948 to help fund the post-World War Two reconstruction of Germany). Loans at interest rates as low as 0.75% are available, as are grants/bonuses of up to 27.5% to help repay loans. At individual state level there are also a range of programmes to encourage and subsidise energy-efficiency installations and renovations. These go a little way to offsetting the rise in construction costs caused by the more stringent regulations, although it has been estimated that building costs have increased by more than 25% over the last decade as a result.
What do you think about the approach taken within Germany’s construction and housing industries? Do you think the extra costs are worth paying if the impact of buildings on the environment is reduced? Or do you think that the regulations go too far and drive costs too high, especially when housing is already in short supply? Let us know in the comments below.
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