Οδός Λεύκωνος 10-12, 1011 Λευκωσία

Improve the regional public policy, VIOLET project

Published by CEA on November 2019

According to recent data from the EU, further actions are needed to meet energy and climate goals by 2030. For this reason, the Energy and Climate targets are becoming more ambitious for the next decade. The EU commitment for 2030 concerns (a) the further reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 as compared with 1990, (b) the increase of the penetration of Renewable Energy Sources [RES] by 32%, and (c) the increase of energy efficiency by at least 32.5%, with an overall to improve Europe’s energy security, competitiveness and sustainability. To meet these goals, Member States are obliged to adopt integrated National Climate and Energy Plans (NECPs) for the period 2021-2030.

One of the biggest challenges to reach the long-term greenhouse gas emission goal is the decarbonisation of the building stock, which is responsible for approximately 36% of all CO2 emissions in the Union. In addition, almost 50 % of Union’s final energy consumption is used for heating and cooling, of which 80 % is for buildings.

On this basis, EU has published a new Directive (EU) 2018/844 which amends the Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency. The Directive calls Member States to set a clear vision to guide their policies and investment decisions, with indicative national milestones and measurable, targeted actions for energy efficiency to achieve the short-term (2030) and long-term (2050) objectives. Among others, the Member states should establish a long-term renovation strategy for their building stock.

Within this framework, the Directive also encourages the Member States to increase research and technical capacity to improve the energy efficiency of historical buildings and sites, while also preserving and maintaining their cultural heritage. This is a field that has gained important popularity over the last decade. More specifically, the research on this topic has significantly increased, but it mainly addresses technical issues, such as the performance of the traditional materials, the environmental rehabilitation, the overall sustainability of heritage buildings, and the assessment of the indoor conditions.

Nowadays, the efforts in most Member States concern the transpose of the research outputs to the policy level. Some countries, as United Kingdom and Netherlands, already adopted policy measures addressing the energy efficiency of heritage buildings, but the majority of them are still in the progress. Without this forward-looking policy change, traditional buildings that are now a valuable asset might become a burden in the near future. This is where VIOLET project comes in.

VIOLET is an Interreg Europe project, which addresses the common challenge among EU regions, for creating a building culture that is sympathetic to modern requirements of reinstatement and conservation, for improved energy usage and reduced carbon emissions, without endangering architectural heritage. VIOLET addresses this challenge, with an overall aim to improve regional public policy to enhance energy efficiency in heritage buildings, by addressing both low carbon and cultural preservation actions.   

To achieve this goal, VIOLET brings together five regions at different stages of development, to foster a multi-sector, integrated planning approach bringing together organisations in charge of energy efficiency and those in charge of cultural heritage at regional and EU level.   

Through VIOLET, each region will create an Action Plan describing the policy actions required to improve energy efficiency in heritage buildings. The Action Plan needs to describe concrete measures and include commitments from relevant public authorities to secure financial resources and policy support.

Cyprus participates in the project, with Cyprus Energy Agency [CEA] as the local partner. A Technical Advisory Group [TAG] has been formed since the initiation of the Project, to guidance CEA and to assess this topic from a holistic approach. The TAG is based on a multisector approach and consists of more than 18 members from relevant Departments, Associations, Research institutes and Local Authorities, such as the:

  • Energy Service
  • Conservation Sector
  • Antiquities Department
  • Department of Public Works
  • University of Cyprus, Architecture Department
  • Cyprus University of Technology
  • Frederick University
  • Nicosia Municipality
  • ICOMOS Cyprus – International Council on Monuments and Sites
  • Cyprus Architectural Heritage Organization
  • IET Cyprus Local Network Committee
  • Federation of Environmental Organisations of Cyprus
  • Federation of Associations of Building Contractors Cyprus
  • Mechanical & Electrical Contractors Association of Cyprus
  • Association of Mechanical & Electrical and Energy Consulting Engineers
  • Directorate General for European Programmes, Coordination and Development [DG EPCD]

Almost three years has passed from the initiation of the project, and now, by the end of 2019 [end of Phase 1], partners are called to submit their Action Plans which will be based on the outputs of project activities. For Cyprus, the Action Plan was set based on the amendment of the new Directive of the Energy Performance of Buildings, to address the fundamentals of the ‘Energy Efficiency in Heritage Buildings’ topic.

Throughout the project it was identified that improvements are needed to include energy efficiency standards and prove that energy refurbishment of heritage buildings is viable and results in significant energy savings, economic opportunities and cultural value. A step backwards, readjusting the law to create the circumstances for other things to be developed, was necessary.

CEA searched for opportunities to transpose VIOLET’s objectives to Policy level. One of the most important steps to this, it was the participation to the «Public Consultation on the bill entitled «The Regulation on the Energy Performance of Buildings (Amendment) Law of 2019«. Proposals, which were based on the regional and interregional activities of VIOLET, were made in regards the Annex II ‘Categories of buildings exempted from the obligation to meet the minimum energy performance requirements and the issuance of a building energy performance certificate’.

In specific, the proposals concerned the exception of listed buildings and ancient monuments (declared buildings). Originally the declared buildings were excluded from both, the minimum energy performance requirements and the issuance of Energy Performance Certificates [EPCs]. It was suggested that declared buildings should NOT be excepted from having an EPC when they will be restored, sold or rented, or if they are public buildings, as this will enhance the creation of an EPC data base and increase the knowledge regarding the energy efficiency of heritage buildings.

In addition, in the case of Listed Buildings or Ancient Monuments, it was suggested that the exception of meeting the Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements, during restoration/renovation phase, to be only applied if the Director of the Town Planning and Housing Department, or the Director of the Antiquities Department, or the Competent Local Authority -where applicable-, certify that this action will unacceptable alter their nature or appearance. 

The requirement for an official confirmation, is not included in the current law (Annex II) therefore, many are interpreting this as there is no need to take any energy efficient measure. This ‘weak’ point was was identified during VIOLET’s implementation.

The above proposals were incorporated to the draft version of the Regulation., but what will be finally included in the new Law, it will be known by early 2020. This is the first step for a policy improvement. As more info and more data will be available, then specific requirements on the terms of Energy class on the Energy Performance Certificate, or on the minimum technical requirements, can be set, opening the way for this field.

For more information on the project, please contact Ms. Maria Achilleos at maria.achilleos@cea.org.cy or at 22-667716.

[Από το προσωπικό αρχείο της κυρίας Αντωνίας Θεοδoσίου (Αρχιτέκτονας & Μηχανικός Περιβάλλοντος) – From the personal archive of Mrs Antonia Theodosiou (Architect & Environmental Engineer)]


[Currently: Annex II for exemptions:

  • Buildings declared as listed, according to the ‘Building Conservation Law’, or declared as ancient monuments according to the ‘Antiquities Law’, provided that compliance with the requirements of this Law would substantially alter their character this is at the discretion of the Director of the ‘Town Planning and Housing Department’, or the Director of the Department of Antiquities, respectively.»

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