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Measures to reduce energy use in buildings have little effect

​Financial support and other measures to reduce energy use in buildings have had very little effect, as shown by the Office of the Auditor General's investigation of the authorities' work on energy efficiency in buildings. "The Storting's requirement to significantly reduce energy consumption in buildings by 2020 will not be fulfilled," says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 11/24/2015 1:00 PM

Document 3: 4 (2015-2016) The Office of the Auditor General's investigation of the authorities' work on energy efficiency in buildings was submitted to the Storting on 24 November.

Energy use in the country's nearly four million buildings increased by 33 per cent from 1990 to 2010. Substantially reducing energy consumption in buildings by 2020 is an adopted political goal.

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG)'s investigation shows that the statutory instruments for energy efficiency do not work for existing buildings, that the economic instruments have little impact on reducing energy consumption, and that there is a need for more information and coordination.

"We recommend that the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation examine how grants and loan schemes in Enova and the Housing Bank work, and that they strengthen information and coordination – with Enova, the Housing Bank and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) as key players," says Foss.

Energy efficiency in existing buildings will be essential for achieving a significant reduction of energy consumption in buildings by 2020. "Our audit shows that central government instruments for this purpose have little effect," says Foss.

The OAG maintains that ambiguities in the regulations give rise to little utilisation of energy requirements in existing buildings. The authorities have no knowledge about the extent to which the requirements are actually being complied with, and this applies to both existing and new buildings. A majority of municipalities do not oversee compliance, and the supervision that is carried out is not likely to show whether the requirements are being followed.

In the period 2005-2014, Enova contributed about NOK 2.2 billion to energy efficiency in commercial buildings. However, the grant and loan schemes are triggering less reduction in energy use than expected. According to the OAG's calculations, Enova's grants for commercial buildings, based on measurements of actual energy use, amount to an overall reduction of 1.8 per cent per year. Enova's estimate, which is based on theoretically calculated values, is 9.3 per cent per year.

Commercial buildings account for about 43 per cent of total energy use in buildings.

"This indicates that the reduction of energy consumption in such buildings is of great importance," says Foss.

Moreover, Enova's support scheme for comprehensive upgrading of housing has had very little effect; only 113 have received such aid since the scheme was established in 2013. And the Housing Bank's basic loan will contribute little in the short term; only 10 per cent of these funds go to existing buildings.

"The Housing Bank should make the borrowing scheme better known. And despite Enova's broad information activities, there is a need for more information from also Enova and the NVE, especially for households, cooperatives and condominiums," maintains Foss.

The Petroleum and Energy minister stated that Enova's role will be examined in the upcoming energy report.

The Local Government and Modernisation minister will review the focus of the Housing Bank's basic loan, intensify information work, initiate efforts to gain knowledge about whether rules are complied with, and continue efforts to strengthen coordination between the actors.

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