Methodologies for Assessing the Energy Efficiency of Buildings will Expand the Scope of Renovation Projects

28 june 2016

How do you go about identifying properties that need renovation the most? Which of them require improvements in energy efficiency? How to organize information processing? How to optimize costs and take into account all the parameters relevant to appraising the value of real property? Answers to these questions can be found in a document titled Methodological Recommendations for Rating Buildings on Energy Efficiency whose draft has recently been discussed at the Analytical Center.

Who are these recommendations for? Even the authors of the document would be hard pressed to answer that. The document comes across as a universal guide that anyone can use: government authorities when figuring out which properties need renovation first, energy companies when selecting clients, managing companies and condominium partnerships that want to assess the current state of their buildings. The authors plan that at a later stage their methodology can be integrated into the state information system on utility services and the Energy Efficiency state information system and will eventually become an integral part of housing regulations.

“At the moment the information found in the state information system on utility services is closed to energy companies,” noted the technical director of the National Energy Engineering Center Roman Neustupkin. “And that is the right approach if you think about the number of requests for building energy service audit that every public organization is going to get. We have got to create a single point of entry for all such requests but it is something that the state has to do rather than the expert community.” The methodology will help sort out this issue.

“There are at least 2 other potential users for the methodology: the state housing inspectorate, which assigns energy efficiency levels to buildings, and regional renovation companies that should be able to offer residents not just the standard renovation option but additional options based on the real state of affairs with the energy efficiency of each specific building,” noted Alexander Fadeyev, a representative of the Housing Utilities Department of the Ministry for Construction of Russia. Another issue is where to get money for the additional options. This money can come from the residents or from the energy companies, he said.

The experts found a number of flaws in the current working version of the document. Deputy CEO of the Russian Energy Agency Zukhra Galperina pointed to “terminological inaccuracies” in the document. “The text liberally uses the term costs but it never defines what kind of costs are meant exactly. And this has to be defined because otherwise it’s impossible to determine their payback period,” the expert noted.  

Another document the experts reviewed was titled the Methodological Recommendations for Assessing the Effect of Implemented Measures. It is no easy task developing a methodology that everybody would be happy with to replace a concept and strategy that simply do not exist,” Analytical Center expert Evgeny Gasho admitted.  Several versions of the methodology have been written since December 2015 with new revisions being made to account for changing realities. “Our initial motivation was to impose some semblance of order and find out what was really going on inside buildings, having gotten rid of myths and pre-existing notions,” the specialist said. “We are taking it in stages, offering an acceptable typology and deliberately simplifying the picture so that the general public can clearly see the direction we are pursuing. Having started with an analysis of energy effects, the experts are now suggesting that other effects, including multiplicative ones, should now be looked at as they are just as important. “We are talking about an average level of specific consumption of resources and about the wealth of experience we have had with various measures that have worked in the past. We can define with certainty the bar we should be aiming for, so our suggestion is to use a range from 12 to 20%. And then we can use this level to bring the “average building” to the average level of good measures,” Mr. Gasho explained.

The methodology will be published in digital form on the website of the Ministry for Construction of Russia and will therefore be recommended for use.

“The problems with the methodologies that are quite obvious already now is that they do not have to be used and they are not in any way related to existing regulations,” lead researcher of the Center for Effective Energy Use Konstantin Borisov pointed out. “But those are issues for federal executive authorities and the Analytical Center to sort out: they need to figure out a way to make these methodologies mandatory rather than just recommended for use.”

Nevertheless, the use of both the methodologies is rooted in practice and despite the problems that were found, once the required changes have been made, their use will be highly advisable.