About gathered participants
Four of the total five experts were authorized certifiers for issuing energy certificates of buildings. Only one expert was an authorized certifier for issuing building sustainability certificates (DGNB consultant and certifier). The gathered group of non-experts was heterogeneous in terms of age and qualification.
Participants familiarity with EPCs and Building Sustainability Certificates
All experts interviewed are familiar with EPCs. It is noteworthy that experts interviewed, who are authorised certifiers for issuing energy certificates of buildings, and all non-experts interviewed too, are not familiar with Building Sustainability Certificates. Only one expert is an authorised certifier for issuing Building Sustainability Certificates. Two of eleven participants are not even familiar with Energy Performance Certificates in Croatia.
Purchasing decisions related (EPC and sustainability certificate)
For 72,73% of all participants interviewed (eight of eleven participants) energy rating of a building is not an essential factor in the decision to rent/buy the dwelling. For them, more important factors are the location of the building, proximity to schools, kindergartens, and other essential facilities for life.
In the case of buying or moving to a new real estate, 90,91% of all participants interviewed (ten of eleven participants) would consider the energy label important because in Croatia it refers to building energy consumption. The better the energy rating of the building, the smaller the future energy consumption and the more comfortable living in the building. For most participants (experts and non-experts) better energy rating is important because of smaller monthly utility bills.
Some of the participants interviewed heard for the first time about sustainability certificates and their holistic approach to buildings in the introduction part of this focus group meeting. Also, the expert, who is an authorized certifier for issuing Building Sustainability Certificates (DGNB consultant), explained to all participants what sustainability means and which criterium are covered in the case of a DGNB sustainability certificate. Most of the participants would consider the sustainability label important in the case of buying/moving to a new real estate.
Four of five experts mostly don’t trust the energy values presented in Croatian national EPC due to different reasons (questionable quality of EPCs, lower price to issue an EPC). It is noteworthy that for 81,82% of all participants (nine of eleven) an EU-wide unified EPC would be more trustworthy than the national one.
Experts stated that the trust in the EPC values in Croatia could be improved by better education programs for energy assessors with more examples from real-life situations, higher cost to issue an EPC, simplifying the input of data required into the national EPC database, improving algorithms for data transfer from software into the national EPC database, higher quality control rate.
Also, 10 of 11 participants interviewed are not familiar with Building Sustainability Certificates. However, it is interesting to note that four of five experts (except DGNB consultant) would not trust the sustainability rating of a building made using an international sustainability system mostly due to a lack of knowledge and information on the international sustainability system. On the other side, surprisingly, most non-experts would trust the sustainability rating of a building made using an international sustainability system: they think that international sustainability systems are well thought and developed and that Europe certainly knows in which direction we all must go.
At the end of the focus group meeting, key success aspects and key barriers for using EPCs and sustainability certificates were discussed. See in the table below the key success aspects and critical barriers for using EPCs in Croatia.
The last question within this focus group meeting was: “If you can choose when buying or renting a real estate, which certificate would influence your purchase/ rent decision more a Sustainability certificate or an EPCs?”
For 45,45% of all participants interviewed, the EPC would influence their purchase/rent decision more. Equally, for 45,45% of all participants interviewed, the Sustainability Certificate would influence their purchase/rent decision more.
Surprisingly, three of five experts stated that when buying/renting real estate, an EPC would influence their purchase/rent decision more than a Sustainability Certificate. Surprisingly, for more non-experts the Sustainability Certificate would be more important when buying or renting real estate!