The Role of HVAC in EU COVID-19 Recovery
By HASSAN ABOU JAWHAR
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, millions of people within the WHO European Region spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors—in their homes, workplaces, schools, and public spaces.1 The connection between indoor environments and health is undeniable; during a public health crisis, it is magnified, in the case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, spotlighting the HVAC sector’s role in not only ensuring healthy indoor environments, but revitalizing European Union (EU) member states’ economies.
To address the challenges of COVID-19, the European Commission in May proposed an extraordinary stimulus package of €750 billion, made up mostly of non-refundable grants.2 Approving the budget for the recovery plan will not be easy, as the member states have yet to reach a consensus on allocation.
The European Commission in May also unveiled its 2020 Work Programme,3 a prioritization of actions to propel the EU’s recovery from impacts of COVID-19. Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission launched a buildings and infrastructure “renovation wave” initiative, as, today, roughly 75 percent of the EU building stock is energy-inefficient, with, on average, less than 1 percent of buildings in the EU renovated each year.4 The HVAC sector is among those standing to benefit from this measure, as renovations are intended to provide better indoor-air quality, improve public health, and boost employment in the construction sector. The EU will propose several concrete regulatory, policy, and financial instruments to ensure the renovation wave contributes to increased energy performance of buildings and delivers a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
Along with the renovation wave, the ecodesign regulations are a key priority of the European Green Deal. These policy initiatives continue to be very effective in the development of energy-related products, the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions, and the phaseout of inefficient products.
Ecodesign 327, Fans, is undergoing revision. Publication is expected by the end of 2020 and will be followed by a four-week public-comment period. Expectations are that additional energy-savings requirements will be introduced and the scope will be expanded to include jet fans. Further changes could include a more detailed definition of fans to clarify and possibly extend the scope of application, improvement of the market-surveillance method through a strengthening of cooperation between member-state authorities, and new initiatives regarding the measurement of fan energy efficiency. The new regulation is likely to be approved in 2021.
Ecodesign 1253, Ventilation Units, is undergoing review, with a one-month public-comment period expected in the fall. Among the possible revisions is an extension of the scope to include ventilation units with an electric input of less than 30 W per air stream and bidirectional units with a total electric power input for fans of less than 30 W per air stream. Additionally, a valuation of verification tolerances could be considered and an extra set of tighter efficiency requirements could be implemented. Finalization of ecodesign 1253 is expected within the next two years.
European AMCA will be active in all of these initiatives, ensuring that the voice of the air-movement-and-control industry is heard.
- WHO. (2013, October). Combined or multiple exposure to health stressors in indoor built environments. Paper prepared for WHO training workshop Multiple Environmental Exposures and Risks, Bonn, Germany. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/WHO_Combined
- European Commission. (2020, May 27). Europe's moment: Repair and prepare for the next generation. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/Europe_Moment
- European Commission. (2020). Adjusted commission work programme 2020. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/Work_2020
- European Commission. (2020, February 17). Energy efficiency in buildings. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/EU_buildings
Hassan Abou Jawhar is manager, government and industry relations, Europe and Middle East, for European AMCA.
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