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Sometimes, law prohibits energy-efficient solutions. Examples could be the prescription of low maximum air temperatures e.g. 20 °C, during hot days in offices or schools, or of minimum ventilation rates even if nobody or just a few people are in the room, or the prohibition of solar water heaters on the roofs of historic buildings. Such legal barriers to solutions that can save a lot of energy should be re-examined and if possible removed. However, no further general recommendations can be given, since such legislation is highly country-specific.
In addition to the impediments resulting from prevalent market barriers, energy efficiency improvements are often hampered by regulatory barriers that discourage respective private or public investment. In order to create an enabling energy efficiency governance framework, governments need to review existing statutory frameworks and, where necessary, remove legal barriers to energy efficiency improvements. Since legal barriers may be quite diverse and highly country-specific at the same time, recommendations provided here mainly focus on the identification of common barriers rather than on how to tackle specific regulatory provisions. Common legal barriers may for instance comprise energy tariffs that discourage energy efficiency investments (e.g. declining block prices), prohibition of changing the physical appearance/building shell of listed landmark buildings, obstructive building codes or incentives to increase the amount of energy sold or transported, which are often induced by traditional price regulation approaches that encourage energy companies to increase rather than to reduce sales or invest in cost-effective energy efficiency (read more on regulatory changes to remove this barrier in the bigEE file on Regulation of energy companies). In order to be most effective, the removal of legal barriers to energy efficiency should be combined with the introduction of financial incentives for energy efficiency improvements (e.g. tax credits and grants) and regulations that provide legal barriers for energy-inefficient practices (e.g. mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS)).
The effectiveness of removing legal barriers to energy efficiency is difficult to assess in general, as they are highly oriented to the specific barrier addressed, the legal system and market situation in a country. We encourage users of the bigEE platform to send us information on successful examples.
The removal of legal barriers aims at the adjustment of the existing legal framework in order to create an enabling environment for energy efficiency improvements. By removing regulatory disincentives for energy efficiency investments and statutory provisions that prevent or impede energy efficiency improvements, implementation of these policies paves the way for public and private entities to opt for energy efficient solutions.
Policies to remove legal barriers to energy efficiency improvements may be implemented at all governance levels (national, trans-national, regional or local).
The target group of this policy are those actors that are legally restricted or are faced with legal disincentives to behave in a more energy-efficient way or who choose/invest into energy-efficient solutions.
Direct beneficiaries of this policy are those actors that are legally restricted or are faced with legal disincentives to behave in a more energy-efficient way or who choose/invest into energy-efficient solutions.
By removing legal barriers to energy efficiency, supply-side actors such as manufacturers, retailers as well as consultants may indirectly benefit from increased demand for their products.
These are a special form of barriers not generally mentioned in the literature, because they are so special. However, the aim of this type of policy is exactly to remove such special barriers.
The following pre-conditions are necessary to implement Removal of legal barriers
Agencies or other actors responsible for implementation
These may be instrumental in detecting legal barriers, but the removal of these barriers normally just needs adaptation of legislation.
A change of legislation will normally not require special funding.
In rare cases, a special test procedure may be needed to allow entry of energy-efficient equipment using a new technology to the market.
Monitoring the effect of changing legislation can be done with stakeholder interviews and case studies before and after removal of a legal barrier. Maybe, monitoring the market for the energy-efficient technology or solution that was legally impeded before the change in legislation will be possible.
Based on the results of the monitoring and information on the unitary energy savings and incremental costs for the energy-efficient technology or solution that was legally impeded before the change in legislation, it may be possible to evaluate overall energy savings and cost-effectiveness, depending on the concrete situation and barrier that was subject to the revision of legislation.
Design for sustainability aspects
Legal barriers impeding energy efficiency action may also lead to other benefits, such as water savings, health and productivity improvements, and increased employment being underdeveloped. When revising legislation, policymakers should also try to address other sustainability aspects.
The following barriers are possible during the implementation of the policy
Regulations that constitute barriers to energy efficiency may serve other purposes deemed important or beneficial by other interest groups (e.g. monument conservation regulations and preservationist movements). Thus their removal may evoke political resistance.
The following measures can be undertaken to overcome the barriers
Demonstration or pilot projects may be an instrument to address concerns.
The effectiveness of removing legal barriers to energy efficiency and the potential energy savings are difficult to assess in general, as they are highly oriented to the specific barrier addressed, the legal system and market situation in a country. We encourage users of the bigEE platform to send us information on successful examples.
Costs will equally depend on the case of legal barrier concerned.
The cost-effectiveness of removing legal barriers to energy efficiency is difficult to assess in general, as it is highly specific to the specific barrier addressed.
Try the following external libraries:
|Energy Efficiency Policy Database of the IEA|
|The Building Energy Efficiency Policies database (BEEP)|
|Clean Energy Info Portal - reegle|