The European Union as a whole has a target of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, compared to a business-as-usual scenario. This is likely to require energy efficiency measures to reach, as it is unlikely that the EU will meet its target of 20% renewable energy in energy consumption by 2020.
An EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is in place to meet the greenhouse gas emission target. It is now in its second phase (from 2008 to 2012) to coincide with emission targets through the Kyoto Protocol. According to the EU’s energy policy the following measures will be deployed to meet the target: energy saving in the transport sector; the development of minimum efficiency requirements for energy-using appliances; awareness-raising among consumers about sensible and economic energy use; improvement of the efficiency of the production, transport and distribution of heating and electricity; and the development of energy technologies and improving the energy performance of buildings.
The European Commission, European Investment Bank (EIB) and Deutsche Bank have committed EUR 205 million (USD 291 million) to an energy efficient fund to be spent on projects within the continent.
Since 2008, a new EU-US ENERGY STAR agreement has been in place to replace the previous agreement that expired in 2007. This agreement basically requires that the minimum energy efficiency criteria meet the US ENERGY STAR agreement criteria for office and ICT equipment.
Refrigerators and washing machines must meet specific ecological criteria to be awarded an eco-label status. There are also EU-level mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards for domestic hot water boilers, refrigerators and fluorescent lighting, which are linked to an energy efficient label. Other products that have mandatory energy labelling include tumble dryers, freezers, combined washer-dryers, dishwashers, lamps, air conditioners and electric ovens.
Buildings are also part of an energy efficiency certification scheme based on their energy performance, at a minimum covering the:
- thermal characteristics of the buildings, perhaps air-tightness;
- heating insulation and hot water supply, including insulation characteristics;
- air conditioning;
- built-in lighting installation (mostly non-residential);
- position and orientation of buildings, including outdoor climate;
- passive solar systems and solar protection;
- natural ventilation;
- indoor climatic conditions;
taking into account electricity produced by CHP; district or block heating and cooling systems; natural lighting; and active solar systems and other heating and electricity systems based on renewable energy sources.