Thursday, August 09, 2012

President Klaus vetoes an insane bill on energy-efficient buildings

This fast translation from shows what kind of legislative junk is flowing from Brussels to Czechia these days...

Click the picture for an older (2010) TRF article on EU bans of heated houses.

President vetoed a bill on energy performance of buildings

Dear Ms Spokeswoman of the House,

I am using the competencies given to me by the article 50 of the Czech Republic's Constitution and I am returning the July 19th, 2012 bill, amending the bill 406/2000 of the collection about the energy management, in the wording of the later directives, to the lower chamber of the Parliament. The bill has been received by my office on July 27th, 2012.

The main goal of the bill is to force investors and landlords to build new buildings and to reconstruct older houses and buildings in such a way for them to have the minimum possible, according to the terminology of the bill even "almost zero consumption of energy" (this phrase is contained e.g. in paragraph 2 of paragraph 1 under letter w, in paragraph 5 of paragraph 4 under letter a, or paragraph 7 of paragraph 1 under letter c of the updated bill as well as in the justifying report attached to the bill). Based on the unrealistic and accurately undefined terminology, construction companies and developers are required to do lots of additional work that may be legally enforced.

Stickers, Certificate of the building's energy performance: ABCDEFG: unusually efficient, efficient, tolerable, intolerable, inefficient, very inefficient, extraordinarily inefficient.

In the context of these requirements, the bill introduces mandatory energy certificates for individual building [see above], the duty to work out and submit receipts about the energy requirements by the buildings and individual apartments when they're sold, constructed, or reconstructed as well as mandatory inspections of kettles, electrical grids, and air-conditioning systems, and those things must be done every 5 years. The bill also introduces assorted energy audits and expert assessments which also requires to establish new jobs for energy specialists which would create a new administrative burden for the users of the bill as well as the state.

The amendment of the bill about the energy management contains an implementation of the 2010/31/EU directive of the European Union that has replaced the older directive of the European Parliament and the Council, 2002/91/EC, from December 16th, 2002 about the energy performance of buildings. At the same moment, the amendment alters the conditions of the energy efficiency of buildings in the context of "renewable" sources of energy that have already been incorporated into a previous amendment of the bill No. 406/2000 of the Collection and that followed from the content of a previous directive 2009/28/EC.

The EU and Council's directive about the increasing energy efficiency of buildings may be interpreted as a result of a flawed long-held policy of unreasonable commitments that the EU and its member states have been adopting for years and that is fortunately being gradually abandoned these days. Its application would significantly increase the price of construction of not only new public buildings but even private houses and apartments. That would create a new burden for the budgets of states, regions, towns, as well as individual households and it would also make the living more expensive, complicate the purchases of apartments, and create an overall liability for the real estate market. Because the bill introduces a system of the public support for the private sector, especially for companies that would be hired to install the selected devices that are using "renewable" sources of energy and that would perform state-sponsored audits, the only interest groups that would benefit from the bill would be the companies doing business with technologies that would be impossible to sell under normal market conditions as well as those who will order and verify the audits of the energy efficiency. Everyone else will lose.

The change of the 2010 directive not only forces member states to thermally insulate public buildings that are being reconstructed; it even forces them to perform the reconstruction itself even if it were unnecessary under normal circumstances. According to the analysis by the Czech Industry Ministry, that would cost USD 0.5-1.5 billion just in our country.

And that's not the only thing; the directive also forces private subjects to thermally insulate buildings. This logic indicates that the state and the EU consider themselves to be more knowledgeable than the landlords when it comes to the question what is actually good for the landlords' houses. In this sense, the bill implicitly says that it's not up to the landlords' careful thinking to decide whether they want to spend their money for energy or various types of thermal insulation.

Barbora Špotáková wins the second Czech Olympic gold, improving the medal tally to 2-3-3. Each of five of her six javelin throws would have been enough for gold!

However, the Czech bill is going even beyond the procedures required by the EU. For example, it ignores the local climate conditions or the activities that the buildings are used for. For those reasons, I was urged to veto this bill not only by individual citizens and their groups but also the senate clubs of the Social Democratic Party, Civic Democratic Party, and the Christian Democratic Union - Czechoslovak People's Party. In the senate, the amendment only passed by one vote.

By its conception and purpose, this bill belongs among the worst and most harmful bills for a free society that ever appeared on my table during my job as the Czech president. It is surprising that this bill was proposed by this [center-right] government.

I am convinced that the reasons that lead me to return this bill are sufficiently compelling for the lower chamber of the Parliament to discuss it once again and more responsibly.

With greetings,
Václav Klaus


  1. Good for him.

    We have adopted the previous nonsense and the end result is that the civil engineers get an extra perk to inspect and give a certificate of energy, which classifies a building as A,B,C... category and the buyer or renter has to be aware of it!! Thats all.

  2. We have all that, triple glazing and double walls included (not much against that). But it's not just the energy label. The most horrible thing is that we're made, by law, to buy solar heating panels. (1) These work in winter because they have a backup electrical heating unit, (2) you can't leave the house for more than two days or the fluid will spill and you have to call paid maintenance, (3) you must make a 5 year maintenance contract which actually costs each year the same as an year of propane gas supply and (4) it will hardly last more than 5 years, then it must undergo major repair or replacement. Great for business -- and, as you use to say, that's the memo.

  3. Ah, and the salesman will not tell you a single thing of these. But then, hey, we have quite a few politicians and former politicians into renewables.

  4. If you want to construct or renovate a building so that it has highly
    insulated walls, doors or windows, or a highly efficient cooling and
    heating system, or a plumbing system that uses water very efficiently,
    that's you're choice, but the government shouldn't dictate that you do
    so. This only adds unnecessary bureaucratic costs to constructing new
    buildings and renovating old ones. The construction industry understands
    this, I just wish the health care industry would understand this as
    well. There is overwhelming evidence (see link below) that most of
    unnecessary costs in America's healthcare system aren't being generated
    at the bedside level, but instead they are being generated behind the
    scenes at the administrative level, which is taking on more and more
    characteristics of a bloated, broken bureaucracy.

    One of main reasons why the burden of bureaucracy is bearing down on
    our healthcare system is because health insurers, private as well as
    public, have recently made the decision not to reimburse patients’
    medical expenses if either doctors or nurses fail to document the most
    minor or, in my view, the most irrelevant details about their patients.
    Insurers couldn’t care less if doctors and nurses properly diagnose and
    treat patients, thus improving their outcome and reducing their hospital
    stay, they ONLY care about finding excuses not to reimburse doctors and
    nurses for the care they give to their patients.

    So as health care insurers hire more chart auditors (i.e. “care
    utilization managers”) who are very costly BTW (their salary is roughly
    20 to 30% higher than it is for a critical-care nurse), to comb through
    the charts looking for charting errors and omissions, the health care
    providers must respond by hiring more chart auditors (i.e. “care
    utilization managers”) who are just as costly as the ones being hired by
    insurers, to detect charting error and omissions and see to it that
    these errors and omissions are fixed. Otherwise, health care providers
    are at substantial risk of not being reimbursed by insurers. This
    escalating battle -- I like to call it an arms race -- between health
    care providers and health care insurers must be put to a stop before
    administrative costs (i.e. wasteful red tape) outstrip the cost of
    providing actual care for patients!

  5. Hurrah for Klaus. Most of this insanity comes from fear of CO2, which actually is our friend. The saddest part is that the poor, as always, will suffer the most. Such laws always act to increase income and wealth disparity.

  6. "It is surprising that this bill was proposed by this [center-right] government."

    Can you enlighten us as to the politics behind this draconian legislation?

  7. Well, it has many aspects. The primary driver are folks in the EU who want to regulate many things, especially the climate. Most of them are from center-left parties (with some far left parties) but there are some nominally center-right parties participating in the same things. At any rate, those things get through the politically correct majorities in the European Parliament and others and they're send as almost "mandatory things" to the national Parliaments where the main argument to pass the bills is that "we will otherwise have problems in the EU". Almost everyone knows that such legislation is harmful. I really mean almost everyone which includes our social democratic and communist deputies. I am sure that the Green Party would enthusiastically support such laws as a matter of principle but it's no longer a parliamentary party.

    Sorry if you were asking about something else.

  8. Same in France ;)

  9. How much do you pay for the certificate? And how many papers and how much time in administrative buildings?

  10. Between 150 and 200 € for the diagnostic (no regulation on the price in France) (it's for the owner to have it done before selling his property). It is also compulsory in Ireland btw.

  11. Thanks, that's annoying enough... It's like basic food for a person for a month.

  12. Yes, you do now. Only state-owned buildings don't need to ;-),

  13. I thought that the bill Klaus vetoed yesterday was *primarily* about state-owned buildings. Maybe it's materially different from your law.

    The cottages really suck. This "detail" is several percent of the price of typical cottages. Czechs are traditionally cottage folks. I am sure a vast majority of people would be against such policies.

  14. In Greece the minimum is 200 euros for houses and 1.5 euros per square meter over that. Part is fee and part is union-of-civil engineers tax and government tax

  15. Just a little less than 500 euros in Portugal... but you get it by e-mail :-) All you need is phone a certified engineer, then be there to open the door. lol

  16. €500 is really awful. I don't think that Portugal may afford such things.

  17. Hey, here you need it even if you want to sell a ruin. Which gets a G. (Maybe even a cow shed, I wonder).

  18. Ever notice that those laws are written by those that would benefit the most from them?

  19. Of course they wouldn't. It would make sense for them to charge themselves.

  20. Im so glad we have Czechia in the EU.
    With a President who's ready to tell them where to go, over & over again.

  21. In England they had this crazy Certificate Schenectady, briefly, but then stopped it when realising just how crazy and pointless it was :-)

  22. Eamon, you in England are very lucky to have Nigel Farage too ! I love to watch videos of him talking at the European Parliament... always delightful.