Strategies for energy savings in buildings
Energy reduction has been the dominating path in the sectors redefinition of construction, a situation which has been reinforced by the climate agenda. The main regulatory instrument enacted by the national construction authorities on energy has been the Building Regulation lying down mandatory restrictions on the level of energy consumption. In the Building Regulation code of 2006 (BR06 2006), tighter limit values (25-30% reduction) were put into force by start of 2006, and the next steps were defined as class II (25 % further reduction) and Class I (50% further reduction) to be implemented in 2010 and 2015. These new classes – defined as the future general standard – have in recent years stimulated projects and construction firms to build class II and Class I settlements and houses. As an effect, the technology to build class I is demonstrated and documented in the Danish construction industry, and many firms now have class I construction programs. This has paved the way for suggestions on an earlier implementation of class I, but so far it has been rejected
The latest ‘Energy Agreement of 21. February 2008’ (Regeringen 2008) included the build environment as a main component. It orchestrated an inter-departmental project on identifying options for energy reduction in buildings including ministries of finance, of economic and business affairs, of climate and energy and of welfare and internal affairs. It was implemented in a broad partnership project including business, stakeholders and experts; the partnership concluded with a strategy document and a list of proposals and initiatives.
A governmental strategy paper for reduction of energy consumption in buildings] (Regeringen 2009) identified a range of initiatives for further energy savings. The stipulated effect of these initiatives is a 6-7 % reduction in energy consumption (compared to no action) in 2020, equivalent to 2% reduction in relation to the consumption in 2006. It takes no major steps, but revises or tightens up existing instruments. Experimental projects are going to be initiated, but no funding have yet been materialised. Main reason for this meagre outcome is that a dominant market-will-fix-it approach has been maintained. An example: within refurbishing of existing buildings, only energy saving projects with high return on investment is made part of the action horizon of the strategy plan (Regeringen, 2009:14).. The economic crisis package for supporting the construction industry (a subsidy program) continues this policy line. Suggestions to reserve subsidies for energy saving were blocked internal in the governing coalition.
Another eco-growth package has been launched in autumn 2009, the Government's green business package that were to spur business development and innovation, among others also in the construction sector. But the retrofitting program for insulation subventions in old houses, that this business plan holds, has during worlds negotiation under COP15 been postponed due to climate change scepticism in the Danish liberal party holding government.
The development exposes a dominant discourse of competitiveness and liberalisation, and of hesitant efforts to climate adaptation, curbing transition programs (parallel to the situation of the ambitious Dutch energy transition program, Kern/Smith 2008).
Summing up, central national policy has not been the driving force for the transition of the Danish construction industry, however there have been some openings allowing local projects and initiatives to explore new paths of development. With no Danish state-driven lead market efforts on sustainable construction and housing, still a growing NGO and public interest in climate related issues as low energy consumption and renewable energy, municipalities and regional authorities are sought for as main actors in spurring a development path.