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Location data for buildings related energy efficiency policies

Created by
Isabella Maschio Scientific / Technical Project Officer
European Commission - DG JRC, Directorate C - Energy, Transport and Climate
Policies and Targets
Urban Areas

<--break->Energy context

Energy efficiency constitutes one of the five dimensions of the European Commission's Energy Union Package 1, designed to enhance energy security, sustainability and competitiveness.

European energy policy is reflected in several Directives; the present document focuses on two main Directives concerning the efficient use of energy in buildings (Directive 2010/31/EU Energy Performance of Buildings - EPBD) and national energy systems (Directive 2012/27/EU Energy Efficiency Directive - EED). Figure 2




A further important energy policy initiative considered here is the Covenant of Mayors (CoM)2">, a major European movement involving local and regional authorities (more than 6400 signatories as of June 2015). Through this initiative, municipalities in Europe (and outside) voluntarily agree to reduce their CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020. Municipalities have to submit a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) identifying the measures planned in order to reach the target.

Figure 2

The need for tools

To implement and monitor energy efficiency policies effectively, local authorities and Member States are required to report on baseline scenarios (e.g. the Baseline Emissions Inventories in the Covenant of Mayors initiative) and on progress made at regular intervals (Annual Reports for the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Monitoring Emissions Inventories every two years for the CoM).

Basic reporting tools are available to local authorities and Member States. However, for the time being, they allow the users to input aggregated and approximated values (for example, local authorities may rely on national data when local data are not available) for planning and monitoring progress towards targets.

A common framework for monitoring of energy efficiency policies, with harmonised data from building to district and ending at national level could improve the interoperability of the different directives / initiatives. Within such a framework, geo-referencing all the relevant building data accurately and consistently will significantly improve data quality and reliability, enable effective scenario modelling to fill gaps in data, and support the overall policy process.

Furthermore, from a potential market perspective, web-based tools providing access to the energy performance of geo-referenced buildings could improve territorial knowledge, and support, for example, the activities of energy service companies and companies involved in construction / renovation of buildings.

The European Union Location Framework (EULF) and the INSPIRE Directive

The European Union Location Framework (EULF)3 project aims to improve the way such ‘location information’ is used in many different policy areas and in e-government services generally. It does this through a series of recommendations, guidance and actions to promote and deploy best practice. The EULF draws significantly on the legal and technical framework provided by the INSPIRE Directive4">, which started out supporting European environmental policy. INSPIRE is due to be fully operational by 2020, when Member States have to complete actions to publish interoperable data of interest for energy efficiency5.

In this context, this feasibility study has been initiated within the EULF project, joining efforts from the JRC units H06 (Digital Earth and Reference Data) and F07 (Renewables and Energy Efficiency). It is aimed at verifying how location data can support energy efficiency policies. In particular its specific goal is to evaluate how the framework set by the INSPIRE Directive for the harmonised collection and exchange of location data can serve the needs of policy instruments addressing energy performance of buildings, energy planning in urban areas, and the national energy efficiency plans of Member States.


The feasibility study

The study has involved the following activities:

  • desk research to identify relevant international “energy and location” projects and initiatives;
  • a survey to collect information from different organisations on their actual and potential use of location data relevant to energy policies;
  • development of a methodological approach based on location data to support not only the EPBD and other energy efficiency policies (EED and sustainable energy action plans for CoM signatories), but also the whole energy efficiency policy life-cycle (e.g. local planning and the implementation of measures for the efficient renovation of buildings);
  • an initial mapping exercise between the EPBD and CoM data requirements and the corresponding data models of the INSPIRE candidate data themes;
  • definition of an “energy” pilot project to assess how these different requirements can be satisfied with ICT solutions.


Main conclusions of the feasibility study

The main conclusions from the feasibility study are as follows:

  • the different energy efficiency policies involve a diverse range of data requirements to assemble the necessary monitoring against targets at the different administrative levels;

  • there is a need for a more harmonised approach to ease the burden for public authorities and support the needs of policy makers. Such an approach needs to bridge the “data gap” identified in this study;
  • it is possible to apply a generalised methodology to support different energy efficiency policies using location data as an integrating factor and combining both real and extrapolated data to indicate progress in meeting efficiency targets and help in planning relevant actions;
  • geospatial technologies in general and accurate location data in particular can play an important role in the energy efficiency field, significantly increasing:
    • the efficiency of data collection, elaboration and communication processes in all phases of the life cycle of energy efficiency policies;
    • the effectiveness of decisions taken by different stakeholders (policy-makers, technicians, citizens);
  • INSPIRE can play an important role through:
    • the provision of common data models and common data access rules adopted by all EU Member States;
    • a roadmap to provide interoperable datasets of high relevance with energy efficiency.
  • Various studies have produced technical solutions covering aspects of the overall energy efficiency requirements but none is sufficiently holistic to address the broad needs in a harmonised way and the solutions do not always take advantage of the benefits of location data. Nevertheless, components of these solutions could be considered in such a harmonised approach.
  • The methodology and approach require a more detailed assessment in the form of a “proof on concept” pilot, to resolve some of the more detailed questions and provide a demonstrator that can be used in promoting a reusable approach for public authorities and Member States.
  • A workshop is needed with key stakeholders to review the assessment and proposed approach and determine interest in participation in the proposed pilot and potential involvement in the future. Invited parties would include the European Commission, Member States policy makers, the Covenant of Mayors, other relevant initiatives, and the energy, ICT and geospatial industries.

Energy pilot outline

The aims of the EULF Pilot Project on "Location data for energy efficiency policies" include the following:

  1. To support local authorities (e.g. Covenant of Mayors signatories) to enhance the energy efficiency policy-making process (from planning to implementation and monitoring), improving the quality of data they use (particularly time series local data).
  2. To develop a methodology and to provide local authorities with tools to build and update a robust inventory of reliable local energy performance of buildings data (not only based on statistical indicators), to generate energy density maps, a dashboard of indicators and changes over time of energy performance.
  3. To provide local authorities with tools to share data of better quality related to energy consumption, which can be used by citizens and businesses, including energy saving companies.
  4. To put in place harmonised data flows to support energy related initiatives at local level (e.g. the CoM) and to align them with the national energy efficiency planning obligations (set by the Energy Efficiency Directive or the Renewable Energy Directive).
  5. To provide more effective scientific and technical support to European energy efficiency policy-making process, particularly in relation to the collection and use of high quality and reliable data for reporting and monitoring.
  6. To provide a real example of how INSPIRE can better serve data collection, collation and sharing among different stakeholders. This may include developing a formal definition of an extension of the INSPIRE data specification on Buildings and other data themes related to energy efficiency.
  7. To provide a best practice case study for the EULF and contribute to implement and test its guidelines where appropriate.

The pilot should involve a representative set of cities, all of which are CoM signatories and are already involved in SEAP monitoring activities. In particular, efforts should be spent to identify candidate cities for which the data needed (as identified in the present feasibility study) are available and possibly already conformant to the requirements of the INSPIRE Directive.



In terms of time frame and geographical scale, the involvement of 2-3 cities in the short term (Phase 1), expanding to 5-6 in the medium term (Phase 2), belonging to different countries is envisaged. An international workshop could be beneficial both for the selection of interested cities and for the dissemination of the ideas originated with this feasibility study to a wider audience.

Examples of Use Cases

In this section five possible use cases are presented, that the Pilot should develop and test, highlighting how the whole energy efficiency policies life-cycle can be supported. In the pilot project a thorough revision of these examples, following the approach described in the previous section, together with a detailed formal description of the use cases, will be done.

Use Case 1

assumes that a local public administration relies on a default dataset for energy performance of buildings (e.g. based on national or local statistics). In this case, the dataset can be improved with data relevant to the physical structure of the buildings, obtained from diverse data sources or collected in-situ.

Use Case 2

aims at improving the quality of the estimation of energy consumption at building level (and the corresponding CO2 emissions) to improve the quality and the level of details of the Baseline Emissions Inventory (BEI) for buildings. In this case, the use of actual energy consumption data at building level allows to improve the estimated energy consumptions at building level based on a default energy performance label.

Use Case 3

assumes that a local public administration wants to update the energy performance labelling default dataset using the data contained in the energy performance certificates available and to create a web service showing the buildings having an energy performance certificate.

Use Case 4

aims at contributing to the national energy efficiency targets using location in data relevant to energy efficiency policies at urban level. In this case, the datasets dealt with in the previous use cases, combined with other urban planning related datasets, can facilitate to set priorities and financial incentives for the refurbishment of a target buildings stock at urban level as a contribution to national renovation targets.

Use Case 5

aims at supporting the CoM signatories to prepare and monitor the Emission Inventory, as the main pillars of their Sustainable Energy Action Plans. In this case, in addition to the datasets dealt with in the previous use cases, also data related to the energy production will have to be considered.

Links and references

  • 1. EC COM(2015) 80. “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Energy Union Package.” COM(2015) 80, European Commission, 2015.
  • 2. 3. More details about the EULF project are provided in the following section
  • 4. 5. More details about INSPIRE data themes of interest for energy efficiency are provided in section 5


Link to EULF feasibility study:
Groups audience: