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How to raise the number of nZEBs in Europe? Experts provide their insights into probing questions.

José Luis Alfranca is an Industrial Engineer (1991), specialized in Energy Technologies. He started as M&E on-site manager in several works of increasing complexity. Since 2006 he is the head of the Mechanical and Electrical Department of the Technical Directorate of Dragados.

His functions are diverse, always related to M&E facilities: project management, technical direction of design-and-build contracts, technical checking of projects in Building contracts, solving special pathologies, advisement on energy efficiency, etc, all this both for building and infrastructure works, worldwide. Besides of his main task as head of M&E Department, he collaborates actively in the internal training of Dragados personnel and is also a technical advisor in several R&D projects of the company. He has lectured at several specialized forums on Building Energy Efficiency. Do you think there is a real market for nZEBs in Europe in the short term? Only in as far as self-promotion goes or if there is a direct and clear way to translate energy savings into monetary terms. How could nZEBs become more appealing to public and private developers and End Users? As stated above, it is a question of putting energy savings into monetary terms. This could be done in several ways: • Business models based on rent with energy costs included. • Energy certification based solely on consumption per m2, with indications of energy costs per standard year, at standard rates. This should be updated on a yearly basis. • Greater social awareness could be a way forward too, although I think this would only apply to population groups with high disposable incomes, which are the minority. • The authorities could subsidise insulation work in buildings that have low thermal qualities. Besides the energy savings and advantages for the environment, this would improve quality of life and reduce health costs. • Another possibility would be to introduce tax relief of nZEB buildings. Do you think governmental initiatives (regulation, public funding, etc.) are enough to ensure the growth of the nZEBs market or does the private sector need to take the lead? Why? I think both sectors are necessary. An inappropriate or insufficient regulatory framework restricts the ways in which nZEBs can be promoted, but private initiatives are needed to promote and commercialise them efficiently. Do you believe your company would benefit from a higher market share of nZEBs compared to traditional buildings? Yes I do, because the construction industry is very fragmented, and building nZEBs would increase the market share of knowledge and technology driven businesses like mine. Which are, according to your expertise, the main regulation barriers currently hampering the design and construction process of a nZEB? How could these barriers be overcome? Firstly there isn’t even a clear and qualitative definition of what a nZEB is. Secondly, with respect to Spain, there are three issues relating to Energy Certification: • Delays in implementing the application procedures for certification. In some cases this has taken years to set up, leading to some applications not being handled. • Hardly any routine checks over certifications • The actual purpose of the Spanish Energy Certification as a reference for CO2 emissions (and for energy demand per m2) based on a standard building (or a pre-determined set of standards for blocks of flats). As things stand at the moment, it isn’t possible to extract enough data from this in order to examine the economic context. In addition, this certification may send out the wrong message to end-users; a building can be class A and have a higher energy and emissions levels than a class B building simply because the standard building for the class A one is a lot worse in thermal qualities.


Nearly zero energy buildings, smart buildings, energy efficiency