QUALICHeCK Booklet #2: Compliance and quality of works for improved energy performance of buildings

QUALICHeCK project final publishable report

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive of 2002 and its recast in 2010 have been key elements urging member states to drastically reduce the energy use in buildings and pave the route towards Nearly-Zero Energy Buildings. Building’s Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are probably the most visible symbol showing the way forward as they are meant to inform prospective buyers and tenants to encourage them to invest in energy efficiency in buildings. Nevertheless, insufficient quality assurance measures could jeopardize these policy efforts. More specifically, frequent deviations between actual versus claimed or expected EPC ratings and quality of building works could discredit the overall approach to energy conservation in the building sector.

The IEE QUALICHeCK project’s goal was to avoid this pitfall by raising awareness and triggering initiatives to improve the compliance of Energy Performance Certificates and the quality of buildings works. This goal entailed 3 specific objectives:

To confirm the concern for non-compliant EPCs and quality of buildings works, based on a literature review and 10 specific field studies in 9 countries, each on samples of 25+ buildings.

To show the benefits of existing approaches with the analysis of over 30 examples developed to contain non-compliance of EPCs and building works.

To give the key steps to set up compliance frameworks, including a summary of key issues that should be addressed for a sound foundation of a compliance framework.

This booklet summarises the key findings of QUALICHeCK structured around these 3 specific objectives. Overall, the non-compliance rates or the numerous quality of the works problems reported in QUALICHeCK and outlined herein demonstrate that the concern for the compliance of EPCs and building works has been superficial in many member states. On the other hand, there exist a number of successful approaches to contain non-compliance that could inspire for member states, although these approaches may be limited in scope or impact.

Source book on Guidelines for better enforcement of quality of the works — Final

New buildings, as well as the renovated building stock, should aim not just for good energy performance but also for good quality of the works, as this is a prerequisite for high building energy performance. Various experiences show that there are cases where the quality of the works is a (major) issue of concern. This source book aims to provide guidelines and suggestions for better enforcement of quality of the works.

The source book focuses on three conditions which have to be met in order to achieve agreement with all involved parties in practice:

  • there must be an agreement about the specifications which have to be met by the works,
  • there must be the required knowledge/competence to design and execute the works according to the specifications, and
  • there must be the will and resources to carry out the works according to the specifications.

In order to achieve better enforcement of quality of the works, it is crucial to take the local context into account. As such, the source book provides suggestions regarding choices to be made at country level, whereby societal support is crucial.

QUALICHeCK source book Works

Source Book for improved compliance of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) of buildings — Final

Practical  experience shows that it is challenging to implement a robust compliance and enforcement framework for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for buildings. The source book on EPC compliance aims to provide guidelines and suggestions for achieving such a framework.

This source book focuses on three key parts of such framework: first of all, one needs robust procedures for determining the input data used for calculating the EPC; then it is important to have a clear and robust legal framework for dealing with non-compliances of these input data and/or of the EPC; finally, there has to be implementation in practice.

In order to achieve a successful compliance and enforcement framework, it is crucial to take the local context into account. As such, the source book provides suggestions regarding choices to be made at country level, whereby societal support is crucial.

REPORT | Sweden – Differences between Measured and Calculated Energy Use in EPCs versus Building Permits (New field study/2016)

EPCs in Sweden are based solely on the measured energy use in the building. The regulation requires that the measured energy use is corrected to normal use during a reference year, however, there is no standardised methodology to account for normal use in the EPC and this is therefore seldom done. This study is focused on investigating the cause of differences between the calculated and measured energy use in buildings, in order to detect compliance problems with measured EPCs. Analysis of two EPC databases for single-family houses and multi-family buildings is conducted based on interviews and complemented with energy use calculations, in order to identify and investigate potential general procedures and parameters that cause such differences. Suggestions on improvements to the Swedish EPC scheme are also presented.

Report | Spain – Different data/tools for getting EPC (New field study/2015)

The EPC for existing buildings in Spain can be obtained through several software tools, all of them equally valid for calculating the EPC. There is one reference tool, one detailed tool, and three simplified ones. All the simplified tools have passed a validation test procedure, in accordance with the guidelines given by the responsible authorities.

This study is an application of, and is focused on two of the three simplified tools, namely CE3 and CE3X, applicable to all types of buildings. A total of 38 buildings have been studied, starting from the information gathered at the point when they were each certified as an existing building, using one of the simplified tools. The sample of buildings includes all types of buildings: residential, small and medium tertiary buildings, as well as large tertiary buildings.

The study is carried out in two phases, with different aims:

PHASE 1: in which the results obtained through the tools using actual values are compared with those obtained using default values;

PHASE 2: in which the results of the simplified tools are compared with those obtained using the reference tool for the same building.

Reports | Romania – Assessment of Quality and Compliance in the Certification of Energy Performance of Buildings (New field study/2016)

Aim of this study was to give an overall qualitative analysis of the energy performance certification system in Romania, as well as to assess the quality and compliance of EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) input data based on EPCs received in the central collection point and introduced in the structured database. In this respect, 26 buildings which were certified during the year 2015 by attested building energy auditors (EAB) were examined.

Key objectives of the analysis were:

  • to analyse the overall quality and completeness of the EPCs introduced in the structured database with as aim to check general compliance with the requirements for the elaboration of EPCs;
  • to analyse the range of deviation of EPC energy performance indicators depending on the quality of input data (analysis of the EPC input data, site visits and re-calculation of EPCs);
  • to analyse the cause of the deviation and to develop recommendations on how to improve – deliver information to energy auditors for buildings;
  • to formulate recommendations for compliance and enforcement.

Reports | Greece – Compliance and Quality of Works in New Case Studies (New field study/2016)

This study assesses the quality of works, the compliance with the reference values of the National Technical Guides and the compliance with EPC input data for 26 newly built and renovated buildings in Greece.

The quality of works was studied based on on-site inspections and measurements, including airtightness tests, infrared thermography of the building envelope and site visits and inspections to check the actual construction.

The check of compliance with the reference values of the National Technical Guides included ventilation measurements and measurements of temperature and relative humidity.

Finally, the reliability of EPC input data was investigated by comparing the U-values of the design with the actual U-values of the materials used in the construction as reported in the EPC, comparing the design values of technical characteristics of the solar collectors with the technical characteristics used in the construction as reported in the EPC and checking the accuracy of EPC calculations.



Report | France – Compliance of regulatory and design studies on energy performance of new buildings (New field study/2016)

Since 2013, all new buildings in France are subject to an energy performance testing according to the regulatory calculation RT2012. The calculation uses various assumptions, concerning e.g. occupancy, temperature set point value and others, in order to position the building against the regulatory standards.

The objective of this study was to assess the results of the regulatory calculation, by comparing them with a Dynamic Thermal Simulation study. Twenty five (25) buildings were examined in this respect.

Report | Estonia – Summer Thermal Comfort Compliance in New Apartment Buildings (New field study/2015)

All buildings in Estonia, that have acquired a construction permit since 1 July 2009, have to comply with regulation no. 68 “Minimum requirements for energy performance”, that also regulates verification of summer thermal comfort compliance in buildings.

The objectives of this study were to assess the summer thermal comfort compliance of new apartment buildings, to characterise which building parameters cause overheating in dwellings and which properties will make a room ‘critical’ to be chosen for temperature simulation in the compliance assessment procedure.

Indoor temperatures were measured in 22 dwellings in 16 new apartment buildings during a three month summertime period and, for summer thermal comfort compliance assessment of the studied buildings, indoor temperatures in chosen dwellings most likely to counter overheating problems were simulated for in total 158 dwellings from 25 buildings.

Report | Cyprus – Compliance of heat transmission coefficients reported in EPCs in new residential properties (New field study/2015)

This study examines whether the minimum U-value requirements for the building envelope, as well as the average U-value of new residential properties in Cyprus are in accordance with the decrees issued by the MCIT, both as they were declared in the buildings’ Energy Performance Certificates (“EPCs”), and as they were built on site.

For this purpose, 27 new residential properties, located in the southern part of Cyprus, were investigated based on photographs, documents from suppliers, site visits, inspections, communications with architects, constructors, and, where possible, tenants.

In addition, a calculation of their U-values was conducted, taking into account the as-built situation, in order to check whether the buildings were built as designed, specified and declared in the EPCs, for as far as the examined construction elements are concerned.