Is the Primary Energy Factor the right indicator for determining the energy performance of buildings?

BPIE proposes using delivered energy as one of the main building performance indicator to determine and set requirements for its energy performance. This paper is an updated version of the factsheet released in June.

BPIE argues that the current approach, using the Primary Energy Factors (PEFs) is detrimental to understanding the real energy performance of a building.

The PEF describes the efficiency of converting energy from primary sources (e.g. coal, crude oil) to a secondary energy carrier (e.g. electricity, natural gas) that provides energy services delivered to end-users. As Member States have flexibility in setting its value, it has become a political decision, with a direct negative impact on the actual energy consumption of a building. The Primary Energy Factor is currently used, but some weaknesses in this approach raise the question of whether delivered energy should be one of the main building performance indicators.

According to BPIE, a good indicator should be in line with the mandate of the EPBD of first reducing energy demand and then covering the remaining needs. Using the calculated delivered energy rather than primary energy would put into practice the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle. Moreover, it would be consumer-friendly making energy performance more understandable and relevant as it would be closely related to running costs. In the end, delivered energy reaches the consumer’s door and is what he/she is paying for.