Attendees at the ISH Frankfurt, March 15-19, Frankfurt, Germany, had many opportunities to find out more about Europe's efforts to conserve energy and promote renewable energy sources.

The ENERCERT EU Conference, also held March 15-16 during ISH Frankfurt, focused on the European Union's (EU) Building Energy Efficiency Certificate, renewable energy and system integration of conventional heating technology.

All member countries of the European Union must incorporate the Directive on Overall Energy Efficiency in Buildings into national law by the start of 2006. To support this incorporation process, the ENERCERT conference invited 350 participants from all EU countries to exchange experiences and discuss solutions to problems - particularly with respect to the introduction of Building Energy Efficiency Certificates.

The certificates will be required by the directive to show the energy efficiency and energy characteristics of a building. The directive will oblige those renting out or selling the property to produce this certificate at the time of sale or when the lease is renewed. According to information supplied by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs, that represents 1.2 million transactions per year.

“It is clear that the specialist companies in our industry, as they are required to validate and produce these certificates, will be making significant strides as service providers in the field of energy management,” said Michael von Bock und Polach, general manager of the German Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning Association during a press conference. “This directive lays down that energy suppliers are obliged also to provide services to the buyer. This is a completely new development, since hitherto only the operator of the heating system was under an obligation. We assume that this directive will lead to greater co-operation between energy suppliers and fitters, i.e. the building and energy technology installation trade.”

Rising energy costs mean it will be increasingly important for tenants and buyers of residential and commercial buildings to know, for instance, how the heating plant or heat insulation is designed in the building concerned. Energy Efficiency Certificates illuminate this information, providing an impetus for investment in energy-modernization measures.

Yet, in every EU country the introduction of Energy Efficiency Certificates is linked with unanswered questions. Who is to issue the certificates? What facts and figures should the certificate show? Along with the building's pure energy needs under standard conditions, should there also be a description of its structural and technical condition?

At the international ENERCERT conference, various key players involved in the Energy Efficiency Certificate were on hand to discuss these questions. The German Energy Agency, organizer of the conference, invited 350 international participants, from government bodies and various branches of industry, to meet to discuss these issues.

Additional events focusing on energy at the ISH show included forums and displays on “Energy-efficient Building Technology,” and “Renewable Energy In Buildings.”

In his statement during the press conference, Dr. Michael Peters, member of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt GmbH, noted that ISH Frankfurt is already the leading trade fair when it comes to the subject of renewable energy.

“The trade and industry have long since taken this subject out of its niche and generated the national and international attention it demands, “Peters added. “All leading manufacturers of heating technology are showing modern integrated system technology that operates on the basis of both fossil fuels and renewable energy, such as that generated by solar systems, heat pumps, pellet boilers, fireplaces and tiled stoves.”

Condensing Boilers

A press release from the ISH Frankfurt focusing on the drive in Europe to promote energy efficiency and new forms of heating technology described two developments that have gained ground in the field of conventional heating technology over recent years: the trend away from floor-mounted boilers to space-saving, wall-mounted units; and the shift from standard technology to more efficient, condensing boilers. In addition, modern condensing boilers can be combined without difficulty with hot water tanks and other heating equipment, such as solar or pellet heating systems, to make intelligent, energy-saving heating installations.

According to Germany's Natural Gas and the Environment Initiative, the country's heating systems are the biggest energy consumer of the average German household (49 percent), significantly ahead of the car (35 percent). Together with water heating, which is frequently linked with the heating system, no less than 57 percent of total household energy consumption is accounted for by the production of heat.

Modernization of existing buildings and heating systems has a great potential for saving energy. According to the North Rhine Westphalia Energy Agency, around 90 percent of heating energy is consumed in buildings erected before 1977. Many heating installations are no less old, and do not include the technological developments of the 1980s and 1990s. According to Germany's Institute for Economic Oil Heating, several studies indicate that, in Germany alone, there are around 2.5 million heating systems older than 25 years.

Due to high flue- gas and surface losses, much of the heat produced by such installations disappears up the chimney or is wasted heating the installation room. In such cases, modernizing the heating system can pay dividends. Up to 30 percent in oil or gas costs can be saved with a new low-temperature boiler. Condensing boilers make do with as much as 40 percent less fuel than their predecessors.

In wall-mounted boilers made by leading European companies, condensing technology is now standard. In the case of large, floor-mounted boilers that are not designed for condensing, a separate flue-gas heat exchanger can be installed between the boiler and the chimney.

Wall-mounted boilers also save space. Generally, the expansion tank, circulation pump and controller are integrated into these compact pieces of equipment. Because they can operate independently of the room air, there is no need for a separate installation room. The output and modulation ranges of the equipment are being increased continuously. High outputs can also be achieved by installing multiple condensing boilers, called a “cascade.” Using a cascade controller, several condensing boilers can be connected to make a centralized heating installation.

Thanks to condensing technology, heating oil can cast off its low-tech image. “Oil heating is currently enjoying a renaissance,” reports The Institute for Economic Oil Heating. Highly economical oil condensing boilers and the new environmentally friendly “EL low sulfur heating oil” are likely to generate additional growth in the oil-heating sector over the coming years. Low-temperature boilers are likely to be replaced by oil condensing boilers as the technical standard for both new buildings and modernization projects.

For European consumers who rely on oil heating, the heating industry also showed an extensive range of oil condensing boilers at ISH Frankfurt, which are suitable for use in one- or two-family houses, as well as larger apartment buildings. This equipment can also be operated independently of room air. Some manufacturers offer separate heat exchangers that homeowners can retrofit downstream of their oil boilers. This reduces material wear and increases the service life of the equipment.

Modern oil-condensing boilers are also part of the extensive ranges of system equipment offered by the various manufacturers. Besides matching controllers and flue systems, they also include appropriate modules and combinations for integrating solar energy.

According to Buderus, it is estimated that the proportion of gas condensing boilers sold throughout Europe will have risen from the current level of under 20 percent to 50 percent of all new heating boilers installed by 2020.