Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment

How RICS is supporting an important European Commission project on energy efficiency in the built environment.

RICS’ Data Services team has been appointed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy (DG ENER), to maintain and update the EU Building Stock Observatory. RICS will be leading a consortium of suppliers test, instruments, research and consultancy organisation Building Services Research & Information Association (BSRIA) and software company Luxoft in working with government, construction and energy-efficiency stakeholders on this exciting and demanding project.

The project aims to improve monitoring of the energy performance of built stock across 28 EU Member States. The RICS appreciates the importance of the Observatory as part of the EU’s building energy-efficiency policy, and the need to measure and assess effectively the impact of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)’s implementation.

The Observatory collects, collates and models data pertaining to both residential and non-residential built stock across the EU and examines technical systems, energy performance certification, energy poverty, building codes and standards, and financing of renovations to improve energy efficiency. The data is gathered from a range of stakeholders, including built environment professional bodies, researchers and official statistical sources.

Data gaps

The Observatory will act as a central hub and provide all the available data online. There is a requirement to expand on the existing data sets to provide a fuller picture of the characteristics of built stock and augment this to support any future revisions to the EPBD.

Central to the existing requirements of the Observatory are:

  • Addressing data gaps in non-residential built stock
  • Adopting new data collection strategies
  • Making greater use of national and regional registers of energy performance certificates (EPCs).

In particular, the data gaps relating to the built stock characterisation of non-commercial properties and the technical systems installed in these are priorities for DG ENER. RICS’ methodology, therefore, proposes to consider the following.

  • Built stock characteristics: the characterisation and volume of the built stock and its energy requirements will be addressed through an online survey for non-residential buildings. The residential sector is currently well defined, however, and does not require this level of primary data collection.
  • Technical systems: these will be subject to review and rationalisation in terms of definition, terminology and segmentation, and it should be possible to update the existing EU project data with more detailed calculations based on the performance of systems, as well as the consortium’s expert understanding of the technologies available and the market segmentation of systems.

Facilities Show

Satisfying the data gaps will rely on the use of a data collection instrument across the 28 member states and the acquisition of EPC data that, in countries that have well-organised databases, will offer a detailed source of technical systems information.

Inception report

In May 2017, RICS and its consortium produced and submitted an inception report to DG ENER. The purpose of this was to outline in some detail the plan for updating the observatory and fulfilling associated objectives. DG ENER’s current priorities for the next six months also include, for instance:

  • Outlining a methodology for closing any persistent data gaps
  • Revamping the existing website
  • Carrying out the feasibility study for launching a big data initiative on EU buildings.

RICS’ role on the observatory project is to provide high-quality, relevant, objective and independent data to enable measurement of buildings’ energy performance, which represents a considerable opportunity for the organisation to support the property professions. This builds on our strong credentials in promoting the sustainability agenda in the built environment.

We will also be consulting our diverse and well-connected network of members, associates and affiliates as part of this work because the data associated with the observatory enables the investigation of the size and scale of the impact that buildings have on climate change, and how we can make simple changes in the way we build, own, operate, renovate and dispose of property in the future.