The building sector consumes 40% of the total energy use EU-wide. That is why a priority for the years to come is to reduce that number to 20%. This objective is to be met thanks to improvement of energy performance of buildings. This may be achieved by reducing the energy demand, using renewable sources (sun, wind, biomass) or by increasing the energy performance. The changes will apply both to old and new facilities. A real challenge the Polish construction sector is facing is the introduction of near-zero-energy, zero-energy and plus-energy buildings. Changes imposed by the directives of the European Parliament and EU Council will have a significant impact on the entire construction sector.
Energy performance of the buildings
EU member states were obligated to determine minimum requirements concerning the energy performance of buildings. The idea of high energy performance of the building is getting an increasingly wider acceptance. Already today, every facility and establishment must have a certificate depicting its energy performance and recommendations for its improvement. Such certificate should be handed over to the buyer or lessee. The existing practice indicates that the importance of energy certificates in building is lesser than assumed. Therefore a new system of determining, certifying and controlling the energy performance of buildings will be needed. The most stringent guidelines related to near-zero-energy buildings, will cover all the new buildings. New solutions will also be implemented in case of renovation the cost of which exceeds 25% of the value of existing buildings.
Investment plans for Poland
Poland is facing the challenge related to getting adapted to the new reality. We still have no definition of the zero-energy building which would be a model for developers, and the time is running. “Luckily, many large commercial building investors, especially in case of office buildings, are already implementing programs adapted to the future, increased requirements” — says Tomasz Augustyniak, President of Go4Energy — “These works are coordinated by sustainable building specialists and allow to make multiannual investment plans based on energy consumption optimisation, which allows to achieve the assumed goals.” So how could energy-saving building be combined with economic grounds and how to overcome obstacles faced by developers? One of the most important tasks is to reasonably estimate the optimum cost of the project based on analysis of costs throughout the life cycle of the building. Poles need not only grounds for implementing energy-saving building, but also subsidies to assist investments in renewable sources of energy and energy-saving solutions.
Perspectives for developers
A survey conducted for Go4Energy by Cube Research shows that according to developers support and promotion of energy-saving solutions by the Polish law and government incentives are very important elements of development and implementation of new technologies. The construction of a passive building may cost 20% more, while an energy-saving building — 10% more. However, this investment may bring returns in a few years thanks to lower operation costs. Before starting the construction, the owner will be obligated to perform an analysis of environmental, technical and economic possibilities to use alternative energy sourcing systems. What is more, the owner will have to develop the related documentation. “If these analyses are conducted and the abovementioned documentation is prepared taking into consideration reasonable investment premises and capabilities of the given owner and then they are implemented by way of integrated engineering and commissioning process both during and after the construction, the results may be profitable to all parties of the investment process” — Tomasz Augustyniak, President of Go4Energy adds based on his existing experience.
Subsidies for the chosen ones
The National Fund for Environment Protection and Water Management offers subsidies only to individual investors for the period from 2013 to 2018. The budget is PLN 300 million and according to the assumptions, it should be sufficient to subsidy the construction of 12 thousand buildings. Unfortunately, the support of the NFEPWM includes only subsidies to loans which means that it does not apply to persons financing the construction from their own funds. How could the stakeholders most interested in this issue — the developers — deal with an increase in expenditure? A growth in real property prices is certainly not a good solution. So far, on the primary market only every fourth buyer asked for energy certificate which illustrates the demand of the building for energy. The statistics show that few people care for the real property to generate lower costs in the future. Developers know this and point out to the fact that the demand for passive (low-energy) buildings is low. That is why so far, very few such buildings were built. And this despite the fact that we often spend as much as 60% of our budget on operation of houses and flats. Thanks to investing in energy-saving building and sourcing energy from renewable sources these costs may be greatly reduced. To obtain the assumed objectives, energy consumption optimisation programs should be implemented from the very start of construction.