BLOG: A central energy efficiency database: EU Building Stock Observatory (BSO)

Rosie Rich of RICS issues a call to action to the built environment industry to help create an energy efficiency database that holds all of the relevant data a professional could need.
Energy efficiency database RICS

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September 11, 2018

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Energy efficiency – everyone’s heard of that right? It’s easy to assume that everyone has heard of it, but some of our population are a little fuzzy about what it actually means. In plain English, energy efficiency involves improving the efficiency of our buildings and technologies, so they consume less energy to perform the exact same tasks – or they use the same amount of energy but last much longer than traditional technologies did. This brings about amazing benefits for everyone, cheaper energy bills (yes please), a reduction in energy demand and associated greenhouse gases (brilliant), and improved energy security (go on then).

Over the past few years energy efficiency has been steadily climbing to the top of the energy priority ladder. It is commonly regarded as the most abundant energy resource and the cheapest and easiest route to accomplishing those important energy and climate change targets. So, in order for the EU to successfully achieve energy savings of 20% by 2020, rising to 32.5% by 2030, the EU have introduced a network of energy efficiency directives over the years.

But how will the EU measure the building sectors energy savings and energy efficiency improvements against successful policies I hear you ask? That’s where the EU Building Stock Observatory (BSO) comes into play! Which you are more than welcome (and encouraged) to peruse here.

The BSO is an energy efficiency database which enables the assessment of the energy performance of EU buildings, which has over 170 energy efficiency indicators per member state. And covers five broad topic areas:

  • Building stock characteristics, including energy consumption and fuel supply mix;
  • Technical systems;
  • Energy performance certificates;
  • Finance;
  • Fuel poverty and social aspects.

The energy efficiency database allows its users to highlight trends in the energy performance of the EU’s building sector, patterns in energy renovation, and the uptake of energy efficiency technologies. This means that savvy users (and policy makers) can use the database to draw conclusions on what energy efficiency fields are being impacted by policies and initiatives. The BSO also allows users to identify building typologies of different ages and in different locations, which would produce the most significant energy savings through energy efficiency retrofits. With the intention that these conclusions would then directly feed into future energy efficiency policies, financial/support schemes, and instruments; all for the cause of reaching our energy and climate change targets. What’s more, the database website has had a makeover and will be reintroduced later this year!

Awesome, right? One central energy efficiency database that holds all of the relevant data we could have ever dreamed of! Alas, now we’ve stumbled upon the awkward moment where I have to be the bearer of bad news…

At present the BSO is facing a significant obstacle, whereby the database is considerably lacking enough robust data to allow these conclusions to be drawn. Do not fear however, we have devised a plan which is expected to close as many of those pesky data gaps as possible.

Strategy one: implement a rationalisation on the indicators in the BSO and remove them from the public domain when deemed too difficult to populate.

Strategy two: release two primary data collection tools. First tool, an online non-residential building stock survey. Second tool, a series of non-residential focus interviews. Both of which are now live!

Here comes the begging. We’d be very grateful for your support with this important initiative and if you are in a position to complete the online non-residential building stock survey, please click here.

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