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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 2030's energy and climate goals. For this reason, Energy and Climate targets are becoming more ambitious for the next decade. The EU commitment to 2030 concerns (a) the further reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 as compared to 1990, (b) the increase in penetration of Renewable Energy Sources [RES] by 32%, and ( c) increase 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 required to adopt integrated National Climate and Energy Plans (NECPs) for the 2021-2030 period.

One of the biggest challenges to achieving the long-term greenhouse gas emission goal is the decarbonisation of the stock building, 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, the EU has published a new Directive (EU) 2018 / 844 which amends the Directive 2010 / 31 / EU on energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012 / 27 / EU on energy efficiency. The Directive calls on Member States to provide a clear vision to guide their policies and investment decisions, with indicative national milestones and measurable, targeted actions for energy efficiency to achieve short-term (2030) and long-term (2050) objectives. Among others, Member States should establish a long-term renovation strategy for their stock building.

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

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

VIOLET is an Interreg Europe project that addresses the common challenge among EU regions to create a building culture that is sympathetic to modern requirements of reinstatement and conservation, for improved energy use and reduced carbon emissions, without endangering architectural heritage. VIOLET addresses this challenge, with an overall goal of improving regional public policy to improve 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, bringing together a multi-sector, integrated planning approach bringing together organizations 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 outlining the policy actions required to improve energy efficiency in heritage buildings. The Action Plan needs to outline 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 project's inception, to guide the CEA and to evaluate 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:

  • 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 Organizations 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 Programs, Coordination and Development [DG EPCD]

Almost three years have passed since the project's inception, and now, through the end of 2019 [end of Phase 1], partners are called upon to submit their Action Plans which will be based on project outputs. For Cyprus, the Action Plan was based on the amendment of the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to address the fundamentals of the 'Energy Efficiency in Heritage Buildings' topic.

Throughout the project it was identified that improvements were needed to include energy efficiency standards and that the energy refurbishment of heritage buildings was viable and resulted in significant energy savings, economic opportunities and cultural value. A step backwards, readjusting the law to create conditions for other things to happen, was necessary.

CEA searched for opportunities to transpose VIOLET's objectives to the 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 VIOLET's regional and interregional activities, were made with reference to 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'.

Specifically, the proposals concerned the exclusion 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 excluded 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 database and increase knowledge about 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 the restoration / renovation phase, be applied only if the Director of the Town Planning and Housing Department, or The Director of the Antiquities Department, or Competent Local Authority -where applicable-, certifies that this action will unacceptably alter their nature or appearance. 

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

The above proposals were incorporated into the draft version of the Regulation, but what will eventually be incorporated into the new Law will be known by early 2020. This is the first step for a policy improvement. As more information and data will be available, then specific requirements on Energy class terms 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.

[From the personal archive of Mrs. Antonia Theodosiou (Architect & Environmental Engineer) - 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. "