Law 8/2013 on rehabilitation, regeneration and urban renewal was published in the Official Gazette BOE on June, 27th. The aim, at the time when the crisis appears to have bottomed, can be transcendental as it could facilitate neighborhood rehabilitation and regeneration as well as energy efficiency of the building stock as a tool for economic recovery and job creation .
The law is based on the assumption of our wide gap with Europe in terms of energy efficiency and the low percentage that rehabilitation represents in the activity of the construction sector. Its contents is very relevant as far as the rational use of energy is concerned, introducing new concepts such as neighborhoods´ rehabilitation and energy self sufficiency or district heating and cooling systems.
Law 8/2013 improves Royal Decrees RD 233/2013 and 235/2013 in regards to the energy certification of buildings. Now it will be considered as part of the Building Assessment Report and the implementation of improvement recommendations will stem from the same. Failure to comply will be considered an urban breach and any distortions in the data will be subject to infringements and penalties systems ranging from 300 to 6,000 euros. All these aspects will be developed and implemented by regional and municipal administrations.
Among the purposes set out in the third article for public policies aimed at urban environments is “prioritizing renewable energy versus fossil fuels and counter energy poverty with measures that promote energy efficiency and savings.” The energy efficiency targets are framed in Directive 2010/31/EU on buildings´ energy efficiency and 2012/27/UE on energy efficiency that provides in Article Four the application for 2014 of a national strategy for the buildings stock renewal.
Energy rehabilitation is eased for areas achieving 30 % reduction in energy demand for heating and cooling through actions in the building envelope, centralized facilities and integration of renewable energy to replace by 30% the use of non-renewable sources. These actions will require an economic feasibility report which will include energy service companies´ participation through energy performance and third-party financing contracts.
Support for energy savings and renewable energy integration in urban renewal proposed by the Ministry of Development is at odds with the electricity reform approved by the Ministry of Industry. Indeed, the reform, through establishment of tolls increasing by 62% prices in the power term up to 10 kW and lowering the toll in the energy consumption by 22 % while imposing a 27% toll to self- consumption, has completely discouraged energy efficiency and self- consumption will not be feasible. Nor are quotes to the European directives in the preamble of the law aligned with its articles, since no provision exists for transposing European standards.
And this is the key, because European standards establish specific plans for energy efficiency by 2014, as rehabilitation of buildings, almost zero energy consumption buildings, efficiency of public buildings, financing and savings in end users bills…. Such these measures are not found in this law that though borne of good intentions lacks concrete plans to mobilize the necessary investment for development. This will be more significant from 2014 onwards because funding for energy efficiency is a priority in 2014-2020 European Union’s budget and 20% of the ERDF, managed by the autonomous regions and the municipalities, will be necessarily allocated to it.
By Javier García Breva
N2E President and and Chairman of the Renewable Energy Foundation