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Energy

Energy performance of buildings directive

Revised in 2018, the directive will help reach the building and renovation goals set out in the European Green Deal.

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The building sector is crucial for achieving the EU's energy and environmental goals. At the same time, better and more energy efficient buildings will improve the quality of citizens' life and alleviate energy poverty while bringing additional benefits, such as health and better indoor comfort levels, green jobs, to the economy and the society.

To boost energy performance of buildings, the EU has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU and the Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU.

Together, the directives promote policies that will help

  • achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050
  • create a stable environment for investment decisions
  • enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices to save energy and money

Following the introduction of energy performance rules in national building codes, buildings consume only half as much today, compared to typical buildings from the 1980s.

Directive amendments

Both directives were amended in 2018 and 2019, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package. The Directive amending the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2018/844/EU) introduced new elements and sent a strong political signal on the EU’s commitment to modernise the buildings sector in light of technological improvements and to increase building renovations.

In October 2020, the Commission presented its Renovation wave strategy, as part of the European Green Deal. It contains an action plan with concrete regulatory, financing and enabling measures to boost building renovation. Its objective is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of buildings by 2030 and to foster deep renovation. A revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is one of its key initiatives. A revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is one of its key initiatives.

Proposal for a revision of the directive

In December 2021, the Commission proposed a revision of the directive (COM(2021) 802 final). It upgrades the existing regulatory framework to reflect higher ambitions and more pressing needs in climate and social action, while providing EU countries with the flexibility needed to take into account the differences in the building stock across Europe.

It also sets out how Europe can achieve a zero-emission and fully decarbonised building stock by 2050. The proposed measures will increase the rate of renovation, particularly for the worst-performing buildings in each country. The revised directive will modernise the building stock, making it more resilient and accessible. It will also support better air quality, the digitalisation of energy systems for buildings and the roll-out of infrastructure for sustainable mobility. Crucially, the revised directive facilitates more targeted financing to investments in the building sector, complementing other EU instruments supporting vulnerable consumers and fighting energy poverty.

In order to make sure that buildings are fit for the enhanced climate ambition, as presented in the 2030 Climate Target Plan and reflected in the “Delivering the European Green Deal Package” in July 2021, the Commission’s new proposal aims to contribute to reaching the target of at least -60% emission reductions by 2030 in the building sector in comparison to 2015 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. It will work hand in hand with other initiatives of the European Green Deal package, in particular with the review of the proposed new emissions trading system for fuels used in buildings, the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Renewable Energy Directive, as well as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation.

The main measures in the new proposal are:

  • the gradual introduction of minimum energy performance standards to trigger renovation of the worst performing buildings
  • a new standard for new buildings and a more ambitious vision for buildings to be zero-emission
  • enhanced long-term renovation strategies, to be renamed national Building Renovation Plans
  • increased reliability, quality and digitalisation of Energy Performance Certificates; with energy performance classes to be based on common criteria
  • a definition of deep renovation and the introduction of building renovation passports
  • modernisation of buildings and their systems, and better energy system integration (for heating, cooling, ventilation, charging of electric vehicles, renewable energy)

The proposed revision of the directive is now being considered by the Council and the European Parliament.

Measures to improve the building stock

The amending directive (2018/844/EC) covers a broad range of policies and support measures that will help national EU governments boost energy performance of buildings and improve the existing building stock.

EU countries must for example establish strong long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050, with indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050. The strategies should contribute to achieving the national energy and climate plans (NECPs) energy efficiency targets.

The directive also requires that EU countries set cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for existing buildings undergoing major renovation, and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements like heating and cooling systems, roofs and walls.

As of 2021, all new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) and since 2019, all new public buildings should be NZEB. When a building is sold or rented, energy performance certificates must be issued and inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems must be established.

The directive supports electro-mobility by introducing minimum requirements for car parks over a certain size and other minimum infrastructure for smaller buildings.

There is also an optional European scheme for rating the smart readiness of buildings and smart technologies are promoted. The directive introduced requirements on the installation of building automation and control systems, and on devices that regulate temperature at room level. It addresses health and well-being of building users, for instance through the consideration of air quality and ventilation.

EU countries must also draw up lists of national financial measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings

In addition to these requirements, under the Energy Efficiency Directive , EU countries must make energy efficient renovations to at least 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned and occupied by central governments. National governments are therefore recommended to only purchase buildings that are highly energy efficient.

The Commission published 2 recommendations in 2019, including guidelines for EU countries related to these rules.

Energy performance of buildings standards

The Commission has established a set of standards and accompanying technical reports to support the directive called the energy performance of buildings standards (EPB standards). These are managed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).

Facts and figures

Buildings are responsible for approximately

  • 40% of EU energy consumption
  • 36% of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions

Buildings are therefore the single largest energy consumer in Europe. Heating, cooling and domestic hot water account for 80% of the energy that we, citizens, consume.

At present, about 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years old and almost 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient. At the same time, only about 1% of the building stock is renovated each year.

Investments in energy efficiency stimulates the economy, especially the construction industry, which generates about 9% of Europe’s GDP and directly accounts for 18 million direct jobs. SMEs in particular, benefit from a boosted renovation market, as they contribute more than 70% of the value-added in EU’s building sector.

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