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Energy

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Aiming to achieve a fully decarbonised building stock by 2050, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive contributes directly to the EU’s energy and climate goals.

Buildings are the single largest energy consumer in Europe. The building sector is therefore crucial to achieving the EU's energy and climate goals.

To boost the energy performance of buildings, the EU has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive EU/2010/31 and the Energy Efficiency Directive EU/2023/1791, both revised in 2023. 

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

Key facts on energy and EU buildings 

85% of EU buildings were built before 2000 and amongst those, 75% have a poor energy performance. Acting on the energy efficiency of buildings is therefore key to saving energy and achieving a zero-emission and fully decarbonised building stock by 2050. These facts and those below come from Eurostat energy balances and EEA Greenhouse Gas Inventory, 2023. 

42%
of energy consumed in the EU in 2021 was used in buildings
over 1/3
of the EU's energy-related GHG emissions come from buildings
+/- 80%
of the energy used in EU households is for heating, cooling and hot water

Revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Crucially, the revised directive will facilitate more targeted financing to investments in the building sector, complementing other EU instruments and fighting energy poverty by supporting vulnerable consumers. EU countries will also have to ensure that there are safeguards for tenants, such as through rent support or caps on rent increases.

To ensure that buildings are fit for the EU's enhanced climate ambition under the European Green Deal, the revised directive will contribute to the objective of reaching emission reductions of at least 60% in the building sector by 2030 compared to 2015 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

It will work hand in hand with other policies of the Green Deal package, in particular with the emissions trading system for fuels used in buildings, the revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EU/2023/1791), the revised Renewable Energy Directive (EU/2023/2413), as well as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation.

Other measures in the revised EPBD include

  • the gradual introduction of minimum energy performance standards for non-residential buildings to support the renovation of buildings with the lowest energy performance
  • national trajectories to reduce the average primary energy use of residential buildings
  • an enhanced standard for new buildings, including 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
  • ensuring new buildings are solar-ready (fit to host solar installations) where technically and economically feasible
  • a gradual phase-out of stand-alone boilers powered by fossil fuels, starting with the end of subsidies to such boilers from 1 January 2025
  • one-stop-shops for the energy renovations of buildings for home-owners, small and medium-sized enterprises and other stakeholders
  • the modernisation of buildings and their systems and better energy system integration (for heating, cooling, ventilation, charging of electric vehicles and renewable energy)

Legislative timeline

The initial Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EU/2010/31) was amended in 2018, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package. The amending directive introduced new elements and sent a strong political signal on the EU’s commitment to improving and modernising the buildings sector.

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 renovations. The strategy aims to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of buildings by 2030 and foster deep renovation - another revision and strengthening of the EPBD is one of its key building blocks. 

The Delivering the European Green Deal (or ‘Fit for 55’) package, presented in July 2021, further emphasised the importance of building renovation and also suggested a Social Climate Fund to support vulnerable citizens and small businesses in the green transition, including through the renovation of buildings, clean heating and cooling and the integration of more renewable energy.

The Commission published its proposal for a revision of the EPBD in December 2021. It sought to upgrade the existing regulatory framework to reflect higher ambition and a more pressing need for climate and social action.

The REPowerEU plan, adopted in May 2022, further highlighted the need to address the EU's building stock to reduce Europe’s dependence on foreign energy sources.

On 7 December 2023, the co-legislators reached a provisional agreement on the revision, that will go through the formal adoption process in early 2024.

Timeline

Advantages of EU building renovation

Improving the energy performance of buildings not only saves energy and reduces energy bills, thereby reducing energy poverty and making Europe more energy independent, it also benefits the health and wellbeing of citizens by bringing living standards up to the 21st century for everyone.

Current rules to improve the EU's building stock

The directive in force (2018/844/EC) covers a broad range of policies and support measures helping EU countries to boost the energy performance of their buildings.

    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).