The Netherlands Government signed an agreement on 22 April 2008 with representatives of its national construction industry to halve the energy consumption of new buildings in the country by 2015.
This agreement is the second in a series of efficiency accords the Netherlands government has established to reduce greenhouse emissions. A similar agreement was introduced for existing buildings in January 2008, and the Netherlands Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment has indicated its intention to establish similar voluntary efficiency agreements with the agriculture, transport and industrial sectors in the near future.
At a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the construction of two 'super-sustainable' homes in Kollum (Friesland), Jacqueline Cramer – the Minister for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment in the Netherlands – outlined the government's 'More with Less' (Meer met minder) plan. This focuses on energy conservation in existing buildings and residential construction. The minister emphasised the important role the construction sector will play in achieving the government's climate and energy targets as major progress in reducing CO2 emissions could be achieved relatively quickly, once energy conservation was made a top priority.
Together with the Minister for Housing and Integration Ella Vogelaar, and the Minister for Economic Affairs Maria Van der Hoeven, Ms Cramer signed an agreement in January 2008 on energy conservation in existing buildings with a number of major Dutch construction companies. The aim of that agreement was to achieve a 30% energy saving in 2.4 million existing homes and other buildings by 2020. It is intended to provide owners and tenants with the opportunity to conserve energy as easily as possible. The agreement is expected to improve the energy performance of at least half a million existing homes and other buildings to a B-class energy label by 2011. The minister also outlined a plan to offer additional tax incentives to citizens who wish to install energy-efficient technologies in their homes.
This measure includes the government and private sector target of a 25% increase in energy conservation by 2011 and 50% by 2015 in new shops, homes and offices. The ultimate target is to achieve energy-neutral construction across the board by 2020. "I commend Dutch developers who have committed themselves to making a substantial contribution to the sustainability of the newly built environment in the form of approximately 45 000 homes, 400 000 m2 of office space and 300 000 m2 of retail space on an annual basis," said the minister.