What Makes a Successful Building Energy Rating Scheme?


Some would say it’s good science, others would say it’s good knowledge-sharing – we say it’s a mix of both. The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) promotes global best practice in the field, providing frameworks for government policies and schemes that shape the way buildings are designed. 

It’s no surprise that buildings can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions. However, the challenge for many governments is designing the right policies to capitalise on this opportunity. The Building Energy Efficiency Taskgroup (BEET) is a group of 21 countries (organised by IPEEC) that share best practices in energy efficiency policies for buildings.

Australia’s Department of the Environment and Energy recently commissioned Edge Environment to prepare BEET’s fifth report (BEET 5). BEET 5 – an International Review of Residential Building Energy Efficiency Rating Schemes – aims to assist countries that are considering updating or creating new residential energy efficiency ratings schemes.

The best minds in the biz

The report was based on a series of interviews with operators of schemes around the world. Why were interviews an important method for this work? Because much of the knowledge about policy and program development is embedded within the minds of those involved. It is often not documented or not shared publicly.

While we had many questions within the interview, they boil down to this one: what makes a successful building energy efficiency scheme?

What makes a successful building energy efficiency scheme?

Some of the findings from the project are common sense: be clear on the objectives, gather data on performance and use it to monitor progress, set timelines for review and communicate your plans clearly to all stakeholders.

Other findings were more specific and are essential to achieving the energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reduction potential of the built environment:

  • Links to other policies: clearly articulating how energy efficiency rating schemes link to emission reduction targets, job creation or other policies is important to maintain investment in the schemes overtime. However, it can also function to undermine the scheme if it is too closely related to controversial policies that are then overturned.
  • Stakeholder engagement across the full supply chain: the building supply chain is particularly complex and successful schemes need to anticipate impacts to all stakeholders from building product manufacturers through to real estate agents.
  • Timelines for achieving objectives: due to the complexity of the supply chain and extended timelines of construction, the timelines for a scheme’s objectives should be correspondingly long.
  • Cost distribution and split incentives: many schemes found that the initial distribution of costs and incentives did not support the behaviour that was intended.

We found that there is a strong international community driving energy efficiency in their respective jurisdictions. Within the European Union there is a framework for knowledge and experience sharing to continually improve their schemes. In some respects, the BEET plays this role internationally, however there is an opportunity to further support this international community. As with any field or profession, people move on and connections are broken and lost. The consequence of this in this community is a loss of momentum which we cannot afford if we are to survive climate change. We can support the uptake of energy efficiency by connecting more as an Energy Efficiency community and by supporting each other professionally.

The BEET 5 Report can be accessed here.


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