international newsletter
  No. 24  -  February 2013
Accueil > International Newsletter No. 24 > Expertise - ISSN 1957-7184
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Construction

Targeting positive buildings

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Since 1974, the building has been subjected to Thermal Regulations (RT), that is, the gradual tightening of energy performance requirements.

Switching from energy "black holes" to positive energy buildings in a few years: construction in France pulls off an extraordinary feat.


The BEPOS (positive energy building) database 
lists all operations described as "positive energy". 
                            

  
        

The October 1973 oil crisis kick-started awareness of the need to review consumption and construction habits. In France, the following year, buildings were subject to a new regulation that has persisted through to the present day: the Thermal Regulations (RT). These regulations introduced a stepped increment in energy performance requirements and an ever-widening field of application. "The gradual tightening of thermal regulations over the past three decades has contributed to cutting the energy consumption of buildings and to progressing expertise across the entire building industry," explains Daniela Sanna, Engineer, ADEME Building Department.
Additionally the 2012 RT, applicable to all new buildings effective from 1 January 2013, will go much further than its predecessor, with a threshold of 50 kWhoe/m2/year on average for the five regulated uses (heating, hot water, cooling, ventilation, lighting and auxiliaries).
This challenge introduced in French law as part of the country’s commitment to the environment also stipulates that, after 2020, all new buildings must have very high energy performance levels – the minimum being compliance with the 2012 Thermal Regulations – and generate either on site or nearby a sufficient quantity of energy to offset consumption. These targets are in line with the revision of Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, according to which, by the end of 2020, all new buildings must have virtually nil energy consumption.
The arrival of the Positive Energy Building raises one key issue: at present, there is still no regulatory definition in France. It is precisely in this area that ADEME is currently working with the French Ministry for Sustainable Development and its other partners to define the Positive Energy Building. "This work relies in particular on ADEME’s identification of the many so-called ‘positive energy’ projects completed in France over the past few years."

COMMITMENT AND AWARENESS 
The issue of what a "positive energy building" should be by 2020, raises questions about the weighting of other forms of consumption in the overall energy balance, and especially the way they are measured and counted. The mapping produced also takes into account this key data in defining the Positive Energy Building. This overall approach to consumption (e.g., use of so called "appliances"), in phase with current social and economic realities, aims to contribute to bringing about a technological change in all areas of the building industry and its associated equipment, and indeed a change in user behaviour. It also looks at the technical and economic balance of the operation. The rise in building professionals’ skills is a major driver in this progress. The FeeBat (Energy saving training for building contractors and workers) approach is a concrete example of an action in this area by ADEME. An initiative among many that must not overlook the fact that choices made by building users and their behaviour are a source of more environmentally responsible savings in addition to technical and technological progress.