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Public buildings

EU countries must renovate 3% of buildings owned by public bodies every year to upgrade their energy performance.

The revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EU/2023/1791) extends the obligation to renovate 3% of central government buildings to all public buildings, at local, regional and national level which have a total useful floor area of more than 250 m2. EU countries should renovate the buildings to the new nearly zero-energy building or zero-emission building standard.

By 11 October 2025, EU countries will have to establish and make publicly available an inventory of buildings that are owned or occupied by public bodies and that have a total useful floor area of more than 250 m2. This inventory will have to be updated at least every two years.

In addition, to underline the exemplary role to be played by the public sector, there is a new annual energy consumption reduction target of 1.9% for the public sector

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) as amended by Directive (EU) 2018/844 requires EU countries to develop national long-term renovation strategies, which must include policies and actions to target all public buildings. 

Public buildings and social infrastructure is one of the focus areas of the Renovation Wave strategy. It can spearhead the renovation wave by serving as a role model and reference point for the industrialisation of construction, showing the immediately visible co-benefits to the public.

Central government buildings under Directive 2012/27/EU

The 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU), amended in 2018, set out energy savings requirements for central government buildings in all EU countries. On a yearly basis, they are required to renovate at least 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned and occupied by central government. These rules remain valid in each EU country until Directive EU/2023/1791 has been transposed into national law. 

To fulfil the requirements of the 2012 directive, some EU countries (listed below) have prepared public inventories of all central government buildings with a total useful floor area of over 500 m2.

As an alternative to renovation, countries may opt for an approach which results in at least an equivalent amount of energy savings. This may include measures such as behavioural changes, for instance, turning off the lights or shutting down equipment when leaving the office, and deep renovations that go beyond minimum energy performance requirements. In this case, the total floor area renovated in central government buildings annually may be less than 3%, but equivalent energy savings in buildings must be achieved. These alternative measures are part of the National Energy and Climate Plans.