Certified energy-efficient homes
Athens News, 1 May 2009

Long being able to buy a home appliance based on its energy efficiency, people in Greece will soon to be able to buy a house or rent an apartment based on how much energy it consumes.

The energy-efficiency assessment of residences is expected to become law in a matter of weeks or months, once the relevant joint ministerial decision has been signed by the environment and finance ministers, says Antonis Marinos, a special advisor at the development ministry, which drafted the regulations.

Once the law is enacted, it will be compulsory for a property owner or landlord to have an energy efficiency audit conducted on a building before it is either sold or rented.

Valid for 10 years, the resulting energy efficiency certificate (see below) will have to accompany the sale or rental contract.

The purpose of the energy rating certificates for buildings - which resemble the energy rating stickers on new household appliances - is twofold.

On the one hand, homebuyers and tenants will be able to compare the energy performance of different dwellings before deciding on buying or letting. On the other, the system will enable building and energy managers to compare their building's energy performance with others to identify possible improvements.

The regulations will not prohibit, however, the selling or renting of a property with a poor efficiency rating.

They will, however, contain minimum efficiency requirements for all new buildings as well as for the renovation of older building stock.

The new regulations are based on the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2002/91/EC), which came into force in January 2003 and which all EU member countries were to have implemented by early 2006.

The directive is a major part of the EU's attempt at limiting energy consumption and reducing climate-altering emissions of carbon dioxide as required under the Kyoto protocol.

When the directive was enacted, it was estimated that all of the EU's 160 million buildings consumed over 40 percent of the bloc's energy and produced more than 40 percent of its carbon dioxide. Both figures show an upward trend.

Improving the energy efficiency - particularly as regards heating - in Greece would greatly reduce the country's so-called carbon footprint.

On average 70 percent of a Greek home's total energy consumption goes towards heating. Domestic appliances, lighting and air-conditioning account for 18 percent of the use.

As in the rest of Europe, the appetite of the average Greek residential unit is continuously climbing, particularly given the increasing use of air-conditioners.

Property owners will welcome the energy rating system, says Stratos Paradias, president of the Hellenic Property Federation, which represents private owners.

Paradias said his organisation successfully lobbied the Greek government to have the cost of the energy audits reduced. "The ministry had in mind to implement a very costly energy certification procedure which would have cost a minimum of 300 euros, plus VAT, for even the smallest apartment," Paradias said. "We managed to get this down to no more than one euro per square meter, with a minimum charge of 100 euros."

The responsibility of obtaining the energy rating certificate lies with the property owner or landlord, Paradias added.

"It's the landlord's job and must be at his expense."

The regulations do not require owners of existing properties to convert them.

Paradias suggests legislators will have to offer financial incentives to encourage people who own rental properties to invest and carry out efficiency conversion work.

He estimates it would take, on average, about 24,000 euros to bring a 100m2, pre-1980, non-insulated apartment up to an acceptable energy standard. About two-thirds of that sum would go towards new windows and doors, with the remainder accounting for external insulation.

For more information:
Hellenic Property Federation (Pomida)
Centre For Renewable Energy Sources (CRES)
EPBD Buildings Platform

The making of a certificate

The energy ratings certificate (πιστοποιητικό ενεργειακής απόδοσης) is a document showing the standard calculation of a building's energy performance. It is a measure of just how much energy a house will use - and therefore the amount of carbon dioxide it will produce - in one year.

A building energy rating certificate - issued after an energy assessment - looks much like the rating label on new household electrical appliances. Similarly, it lends itself to the same concept as the litre-per-kilometre rating for a motorcar.

The house's energy performance will be represented on the certificate by a coloured scale showing graphically just how energy efficient the building is.

The rating scale, in Greek, ranges from A+ (most efficient) to H (least efficient):
Energy certificate

Factors that assessors will inspect include:
• Size, geometry and exposure of the dwelling
• Materials used for construction
• Thermal insulation
• Ventilation of the dwelling and ventilation equipment
• The model of air conditioners used
• Efficiency, responsiveness and control characteristics of the heating system(s)
• Solar gains through glazed openings
• Thermal storage capacity of the dwelling
• The fuel used to provide space and water heating, ventilation and lighting
• Renewable and altemative energy generation technologies

Few homes rate an A

The current residential housing stock in Greece features few structures that would fall in the top energy efficiency category, says Lena Lampropoulou, head of the buildings department at the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources.

"Most of the buildings built since 1990 would fall into the C-class rating," Lampropoulou says. "Thus, in order to meet the B-class specifications would not require a considerable investment or renovation work - passing from C to B is rather easy."

For the owners of buildings built prior to 1980, when the first requirements to insulate buildings were introduced - the issue is more complex, Lampropoulou says.

Most of the pre-1980 buildings, which account for 60 percent of the country's building stock, lack external insulation, double-glazed windows and new-generation water heaters.

"The problem with older buildings is with their draughty wooden windows and doors," says Stratos Paradias, president of the Hellenic Property Federation. "These will have to be modernised if their owners want to stay in the property market."