In a guidance note published yesterday 19 September, Eurostat has clarified the accounting rules applied to the treatment of energy performance contracts (EPCs). EPCs are agreements that guarantee a minimum performance by energy efficiency improvement measures. The changes will make it easier for schools, hospitals, and other public buildings - which make up more than 10% of the EU's overall building stock – to invest for the purpose of improving energy efficiency. By benefitting public buildings such as social housing facilities, they will also help combat energy poverty and social exclusion.
EPCs in the public sector are an effective tool for making public buildings and other public infrastructures more energy efficient, as the initial investment can be covered by a private partner and repaid by guaranteed energy savings. The changes proposed by Eurostat clarify the circumstances in which these contracts can be recorded off government balance sheets and therefore make it easier for public bodies to use them. This is also in line with the third pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, which aims to remove regulatory barriers to investment. It also paves the way for the development of a stronger market of EPC providers, involving many small and medium-sized enterprises.
The updated guidance note will help EU countries' National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) to better understand the impact energy efficiency investments have on government balance sheets.