Energy Assessor Competence Inconsistent Across Europe
The Association of European Building Surveyors and Construction Experts (AEEBC) claims that standards of training and competence of energy assessors are inconsistent across Europe. In some countries like the UK anyone can go on a short course and become an energy assessor without the need to be a qualified building professional. In other countries like Denmark, over restrictive regulations are discriminating against highly skilled professionals such as the Danish Constructing Architects by restricting the work to other allied professional groups such as Construction and Mechanical Engineers.
At the AEEBC seminar held in Helsinki, Zsolt Toth discussed the provisions of the EU’s recast of Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The new directive will require all buildings put up from the end of 2020 to be ‘nearly-zero energy’ and, to a large extent, use renewable energy. The recast buildings directive sets out rules for the energy performance of both new and existing buildings. Member States will have to take measures to achieve these requirements at "cost-optimal levels".
Certification will be mandatory for any buildings constructed, sold or rented out, as well as for buildings over 500 square metres which is occupied by a public authority and frequently visited by the public. Five years after the legislation takes effect, this threshold will be lowered to 250 square metres. Furthermore, under the new directive, energy performance indicators will be stated in advertisements for sale or rent and recommendations on how to improve the energy performance of buildings will be included in every certificate.
Building professionals are critical for reducing the impact of buildings on the environment and on climate change. Despite the recently adopted energy efficiency legislation to transform the building sector, practical barriers remain in Europe, especially in what concerns the training and mobility of professionals, according to Zsolt Toth, EU Policy and Public Affairs Officer at RICS.
In England there is no lack of energy assessors. Martin Russell-Croucher, also from RICS, could tell you that they have a large surplus of trained domestic energy assessors. In addition, there is no obligation for energy assessors’ to have prior building pathology skills before they are sent on the short training course. That anyone can become energy assessor has in turn meant that the quality of some of the energy certificates has been brought into question.
In a comment arising from AEEBC meeting, Vice President Jacob Ravn Thomsen said “there is an acute lack of energy assessors in some member states and an oversupply in others; likewise there are marked differences in the level of competence across the EU Member States." He went on to say “in some Member States, protectionist regulations which only recognise certain professional titles, as against competence, are discriminating against certain professions some of which are members of the AEEBC."
There was an overwhelming agreement at the meeting that the public should expect the highest standards of quality and service from professionals undertaking energy assessments. It is fundamental that national governments utilise the expertise of ALL competent construction professionals and set training and competence standards that are consistent with the highest standards which, in turn, is key to the successful implementation of the Directive.
Zsolt Toth is the author of the RICS report "Towards an Energy Efficiency European Building Stock" on the implementation of the 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Several AEEBC members have contributed to the report.
Twice a year members of AEEBC meet at the General Assembly in various European locations. This time, the Finnish Construction Managers and Engineers, RKL, hosted the meeting that took place in Helsinki on 3-5 June 2010.
In addition to the General Assembly and various working group meetings, a seminar has been organised with presentations on topics as diverse as the new energy requirements for the European buildings and a Finnish scheme for voluntary certification of professionals in construction.