ECO-INNOVATIONat the heart of European policies
Tough new measures have been introduced in Austria to increase energy efficiency in both public and private buildings. These measures favour adoption of eco-innovative solutions
A series of tough housing and construction measures to be implemented across the country's nine states from 2009 has been announced by the Austrian federal government. This new policy aims to cut energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the nation's housing sector. Ambitious thresholds for obtaining housing subsidies are being introduced for both individual dwellings and multi-storey buildings, and will promote the ultimate phasing out of oil heating. In addition, the initiative addresses energy efficiency in building renovation, and contains new regulations on space and water heating. An adjustment in heating subsidy thresholds favours the adoption of eco-innovative systems.
The Austrian Federal Government and state-level authorities have reached a consensus on these measures, which are described as a breakthrough in the nation's fight against climate change. The measures have the dual intention of reducing CO2 emissions and promoting energy efficiency in public and private buildings. In addition, the introduction of these regulation is expected to result in real savings for citizens, and prevent further inflation in domestic and commercial energy costs.
New measures to be introduced in early 2009 will see a change in the granting of housing subsidies for heating systems. The areas of housing and construction have been targeted as emissions and energy waste are particularly high in this sector. During 2006, greenhouse emissions from space heating were 2.3 tonnes above the Austrian federal climate strategy targets. As a result, the new agreement has set ambitious thresholds that will have to be met before subsidies are granted. New single dwellings will be expected to meet a 36 kilowatt hour per cubic metre (kWh/m2/a) threshold, while multi-storey buildings have been set a 20 kWh/m2/a threshold. In addition, subsidies previously granted for oil-based heating systems will be phased out. In contrast there will be significant subsidies offered for the adoption of eco-innovative heating and hot water systems, and a greater use of renewable forms of energy.
New energy criteria will be taken into account before awarding subsidies for the renovation of heating and insulation measures in houses built between 1945 and 1980. The announcement of these new measures describes the area of renovation as an important issue in terms of climate change. While improvement in this area will result in the reduction of CO2 emissions, it will have the added benefit of potentially reducing heating costs by two thirds.
These new measures are not limited to the area of social housing. The agreement will also introduce new regulations affecting construction law and public buildings. And the move will see efficiency standards for public buildings aligned to those expected of private buildings.
This latest agreement is not the only Austrian initiative which promotes energy efficiency in buildings. Like other Member States, Austria has over recent years implemented the EU Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) Directive. In addition, the Federal Government has introduced other measures connected to this issue. Measures such as the ‘Energy Certification Providing Act’ (‘Energieausweisvorlagegesetz – EAVG’) and the Austrian Institute of Construction (OIB) Engineering Guidelines have been adopted to maximise energy efficiency in new and existing buildings in Austria. In addition, Austria has established a national master plan to enable the country to achieve the top position in the European environmental technology sector. One key objective of the master plan is to establish passive-house standard criteria in the field of housing subsidies for the construction of new buildings. All these measures are just some of the parts of the greater Austrian national Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which was prepared in June 2007. The plan aims to increase energy efficiency by 1% in nine years, starting from 2008, and has a mid-term energy savings goal of 17.9 peta joules for 2010 and a final goal of 80 peta joules for 2016. In addition, it advocates the introduction of beneficial measures across the public, private, industrial, agricultural and transportation sectors. Such measures could potentially include subsidy schemes for private housing, energy and climate-control programmes, third party financing in public buildings, public procurement, public transportation, energy advice and information campaigns.
Austrian Energy Efficiency Action Plan: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/demand/legislation/doc/neeap/austria_en.pdf [1 MB]
Towards an Energy Efficient European Building Stock (RICS): http://www.sustenergy.org/UserFiles/File/EPBD2_online_web.pdf
Austrian Institute of Construction (OIB:) http://www.oib.or.at