Country to miss EU deadline regarding energy efficiency

Greece has some of the most energy-consuming buildings in the European Union and will not meet the January 4 deadline for the incorporation into national legislation of Directive EC 2002/91 regarding energy savings, it was revealed at a conference yesterday. Speakers at the event, organized by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritages, said the consultative committee set up by the Environment and Public Works Ministry for incorporation has still not completed its task. More importantly, the ministry’s recent draft bill on building licenses does not include any specifications regarding the energy performance of buildings, as the directive requires. Experts pressed the point that Greece’s performance in this field is unenviable, and it should not wait for the European Union to force it to address the problem. Greek buildings account for 30 percent of the country’s energy consumption and 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. An average residence in Athens consumes twice as much energy as one in Copenhagen, said Matthaios Santamouris, an assistant professor at Athens University. «This is as much due to the low price of energy in our country as to the lack of energy legislation, the rapid spread in the use of air conditioning and, of course, the improvement in living standards,» he said. Besides their high energy consumption, Greek buildings also appear to be unhealthy. Measurements carried out in 2,000 homes show that the quality of the air inside them is very bad: Levels of airborne particles are four times above specified limits and volatile organic compounds are seven times higher. «Such levels have obvious consequences on citizens’ health. It is not a coincidence that a study conducted in operation rooms in nine large Athens hospitals showed that medical staff show particularly worrying symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness and sweating,» Santamouris said. It appears that the quality of the internal environment of buildings is directly related to factors such as energy consumption, building materials and the use of air conditioning. The EU directive provides, among other things, for minimum energy consumption in new constructions, certification systems for new and old buildings, inspections in central-heating and air-conditioning installations at regular intervals, and assessment of heating installations where boilers are more than 15 years old.