European countries missing out on the benefits of smart buildings, says report

European Union nations are doing too little to encourage the uptake of demand response and energy storage in the built environment, according to a new analysis by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE).

Smart buildings are flexibly connected and can interact with the energy system, being able to produce, store and/or consume energy efficiently. But the report — Is Europe ready for the smart buildings revolution? — says that no Member State is fully prepared to take advantage of the benefits of smart building technologies.

Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands are seen as the leading countries in terms of a smart-readiness, having implemented enabling policies. However, most countries show little progress in opening the market to demand side response or in encouraging the adoption of energy storage capacity in buildings, BPIE argues.

For instance, only Sweden, Finland and Italy have completed the deployment of smart meters, and progress in many other countries is slow.

According to the report, EU legislation could play a more effective role to encourage the roll-out of ‘smart infrastructure’ by enabling an electricity market with flexible pricing, empowering consumers, and increasing renewable energy production, self-consumption and storage.

This would enable buildings to play a proactive role in the energy system. But a prerequisite for a smart building stock is that buildings have to be energy efficient, says BPIE.

“As consumers are at the centre of the EU’s legislation for a low-carbon, healthier and more comfortable building stock, they should be empowered to take control over their energy consumption and production. Smart and efficient buildings can deliver direct benefits for citizens in terms of lower energy bills and more comfortable homes, and wider benefits for the European economy triggering innovation and creating new job opportunities,” commented Oliver Rapf, executive director of BPIE.

For more on how Osborne Clarke is involved in developing smart cities and buildings, please read our latest international research report “Smart cities in Europe: The future of the built environment“.

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