As part of their “Energiewende”, Germany has set new a law that aims to contribute to a greener future full of sustainable buildings. Industry insiders expect heat pumps to benefit most from the new rules.
The German Renewable Energy Heating Act pushes all new residential and commercial buildings to include a sustainable heating scheme. From January 1, 2016—construction of new buildings will only be permitted if they use energy generated from renewable sources for space and water heating. This includes the use of solar, solar thermal, biomass, efficient heat pumps, etc. Oil burners are completely banned as a means of heating new buildings.
The national goal is to boost Germany’s percentage of renewable heat to 14 % by 2020.
However, this law is a bit milder for older buildings as they do not have the luxury of pre-planning. Instead, renewable renovations will be funded by the government’s Market Incentive Program (MAP) to install more sustainable technology—biomass, solar thermal, heat pump installations, and wood pellet heating systems.
MAP will aid existing homeowners and some commercial entities in buying such technology; installation and regular checkups will also be funded by the government. Historical monuments and other buildings where retrofits are completely infeasible are exempt from the law. The national goal is to the estimated 14 % share of domestic heating by environmental energy by year 2020.
But the program as a whole is not new. Since 2009, citizens have been pushed to get a portion of their heating from sustainable sources; energy conservation efforts also sufficed. This new law, however, excludes some of the mildness and requires a total ban on oil heaters in new buildings.
Elsewhere in Europe, we’ve already seen several laws enacted to improve sustainability. Germany’s neighbor to the north, Denmark, for instance, placed a ban on fossil fuel-fired heating systems back in 2013. Just last summer France enacted a law that requires rooftops of all new commercial buildings to include either solar panels, or pollutant-reducing vegetation (also known as a Green Roof).