Report on barriers to implementing E1st in the EU-28

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Discover the latest report produced by the H2020 enefirst project, focused on barriers to implementing the Efficiency First principle in the EU buildings sector.

This report is focused on barriers to implementing “Efficiency First” (E1st) in the EU in several policy areas that are linked to energy use in the buildings sector (such as network codes, renewable energy policy, building regulations and others). These range from legal and regulatory, institutional and organizational capacity-related barriers, which consider the way that energy planning and policy operate including multilevel governance, to economic and social/cultural barriers (in relation to buildings, heating systems, etc.).The scope is deliberately wider than just buildings policy; for example, deciding whether to invest in energy network upgrades or demand-side responses is an application of the E1st principle that also relates to the building sector. The E1st concept is still recent, so there is not yet a developed literature that specifically analyses the related barriers. This report thus begins by considering underlying barriers related to the key components that form the E1st principle: barriers to demand-side resources (end-use energy efficiency in buildings and demand-response) and barriers to decision or planning frameworks (IRP –Integrated Resource Planning, or LCP –Least Cost Planning) that can ensure a level playing field for the comparison of demand-side and supply-side resources. These targeted literature reviews were used to draw a typology of barriers to prepare an online survey and structure the analysis of the 45 answers received from various stakeholders, with a larger representation from demand-side experts(energy efficiency or building experts)as this is the focus of the project. The main messages from this survey are that:

  • Political barriers are the category most frequently mentioned by respondents, suggesting that implementing the E1st principle would be first and foremost a political decision
  • A majority of respondents stressed the lack of expertise, knowledge, awareness or understanding, which suggests that a proactive dissemination of good practices and case studies is important.
  • Implementing E1st can work only if every actor understands what it means for them: making E1st a common practice implies making E1st part of everyone’s work.
  • Multiple benefits of E1st need to be considered and communicated more effectively among stakeholders, in line with one key element of the E1st principle: using a broader scope in cost-benefit analysis.
  • Making E1st a common practice would require a cultural change along the whole chain of actors.
  • Cultural barriers are related to actors’ own habits and practices as well as about breaking silo thinking.
  • Other barriers specific to E1st relate to possible reasons why supply-side options might be given priority, disregarding demand-side options: these aspects are at the core of the E1st principle and complement the analyses done earlier on the background and definitions ofE1st (see ENEFIRST 2020a) by emphasising why we need to think beyond existing energy efficiency policies
Energy Efficiency/Saving
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