Nearly zero-emission building (NZEB) means a building that has a very high energy performance, while the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires that EU countries had to ensure that all new buildings were nearly zero-energy by the end of 2020 while all new public buildings had to be nearly zero-energy after 31 December 2018.
The Commission’s proposal to revise the directive (December 2021) makes a step forward from current NZEB to zero-emission building (ZEB), aligning the energy performance requirement for new buildings to the longer-term climate neutrality goal and “energy efficiency first principle”.
According to the directive’s proposal, a zero emission building is defined as a building with a very high energy performance, with the very low amount of energy still required fully covered by energy from renewable sources and without on-site carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
The ZEB requirement should apply as of 1 January 2030 to all new buildings, and as of 1 January 2027 to all new buildings occupied or owned by public authorities.
While the focus of the proposal is the reduction of operational greenhouse gas emissions, ZEB definition further include the calculation life-cycle Global Warming Potential (GWP) and its disclosure through the energy performance certificate of the building. This requirement should apply as of 1 January 2027 for all new buildings with a useful floor area larger than 2000 square meters and as of 1 January 2030 for all new buildings.
Implementation, monitoring and reporting
EU countries share their nearly zero-energy buildings national plans with the Commission and describe how they intend to increase the number of nearly zero-energy buildings in their respective country.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires EU countries to develop long-term renovation strategies aiming to facilitate the cost-effective transformation of existing buildings into nearly zero- energy buildings. The proposal to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive aims to reinforce the long-term renovation strategies into national building renovation plans having the objective to transform the building stock into zero emission buildings by 2050.
The Commission monitors the progress made by EU countries to increase the number of nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEBs).
- In 2016, the Commission developed guidelines for the promotion of NZEBs in order to ensure that by 2020, all new buildings are NZEBs.
- In 2016, the Commission's Joint Research Centre also prepared a synthesis report on the national plans for nearly NZEBs.
- NZEBs were one of the topics addressed in the Concerted Action EPBD forum and provided an overview of national applications of the NZEB definitions (2018).
- In 2019, a comprehensive study of building energy renovation activities and the uptake of NZEBs in the EU was prepared for the Commission.
- Integrated reporting on NZEB is requested within the National Energy and Climate Plans reporting obligations.