Nearly 35 % of all buildings in the EU are over 50 years old, of which approximately 75 % are energy inefficient. Even though renovating existing buildings could substantially reduce energy consumption (by up to 60 %), only 0.4 to 1.2 % are renovated each year. Of those that are, just 15 % incorporate significant energy-efficiency improvements. This, in large part, is due to the fact that most of the building sector, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals, lack the necessary skills to perform energy-efficient renovations and retrofits. “HVAC professionals play an important role in energy efficiency, especially in renovation where heating and cooling systems are replaced or upgraded first,” says Johann Zirngibl, an engineer at CSTB, the French national organisation providing research and innovation, consultancy, testing, training and certification services to the construction industry. Zirngibl also serves as the coordinator of the EU-funded CEN-CE (CEN standard Certified Experts EU-wide qualification and training scheme based on EPBD mandated CEN standards) project, which is dedicated to setting up qualification and training schemes in energy-efficient construction for HVAC professionals.
Immediate and long-term focus
The CEN-CE training schemes are based on standards set by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and are related to the European Commission’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The EPBD requires all new construction to be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEBs) as of 31 December 2020. The European Commission charged CEN with the task of issuing standards to support the implementation of EPBD requirements. “Whereas some of these standards relate to the daily work of HVAC professional, others relate to upcoming challenges like global cost calculation and integrating renewable energy sources,” says Zirngibl. “That’s why simply providing training on individual technical topics is not enough and complementary training on transversal know-how is also needed.” CEN-CE developed training programmes covering both individual standards and ‘big picture’ issues like adopting a holistic approach to assessing a building’s energy performance. Each training includes a presentation on the fundamentals of the standard, a handbook on calculation procedures, and an Excel-based tool for evaluating the impact of different parameters. The training and qualification schemes are targeted towards middle and senior-level professionals. “These training schemes equip architects, system designers and installers with the latest in energy-efficient building techniques at the international level,” explains Zirngibl.
Following the training, participants can take a test to become a CEN-CE certified expert. Once complete, the participant will have their name added to the CEN-CE list of certified professionals. This list is publicly available to the industry, which can use it to easily find a qualified HVAC professional for their building construction or renovation project. “The CEN-CE training and qualification scheme completes existing offers by equipping HVAC professionals with the know-how and skills they need to meet tomorrow’s challenges in building design and retrofitting,” adds Zirngibl. With the training scheme launched, the project now focusses on taking it to the market and promoting its uptake amongst industry and existing training providers.
CEN-CE, energy efficiency, construction, renovation, heating and air conditioning, HVAC, energy consumption, building sector, European Committee for Standardization, CEN, energy performance of buildings directive, EPBD, nearly zero-energy building, NZEB