The EU Building Stock Observatory monitors the energy performance of buildings across Europe.

The EU has set a target for all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2020.

Energy performance certificates provide information on the energy efficiency of buildings and recommended improvements.

Financial support mechanisms in EU countries can help pay for energy efficient renovations

Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. Currently, about 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years old and almost 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient, while only 0.4-1.2% (depending on the country) of the building stock is renovated each year. Therefore, more renovation of existing buildings has the potential to lead to significant energy savings – potentially reducing the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lowering CO2 emissions by about 5%.

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings can also generate other economic, social and environmental benefits. Better performing buildings provide higher levels of comfort and wellbeing for their occupants, and improve health by reducing illnesses caused by a poor indoor climate. It also has a major impact on the affordability of housing and on the concept of energy poverty. Improvement of the energy performance of the housing stock and the energy savings it brings would enable many households to escape energy poverty.

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

Main EU policies

The 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive are the EU's main legislative instruments promoting the improvement of the energy performance of buildings within the EU and providing a stable environment for investment decisions to be taken. As Directives, they needed to be transposed by Member States into national legislation.

The 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has made it possible for consumers to make informed choices that will help them save energy and money, and has resulted in a positive change of trends in the energy performance of buildings. Following the introduction of energy efficiency requirements in national building codes in line with the Directive, new buildings today consume only half as much as typical buildings from the 1980s.

On 30 November 2016, as part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, the Commission proposed an update to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to help promote the use of smart technology in buildings, to streamline existing rules and accelerate building renovation. The Commission also published a new buildings database – the EU Building Stock Observatory – to track the energy performance of buildings across Europe. In order to direct investment towards the renovation of building stock, the Commission also launched the Smart Finance for Smart Buildings initiative, which has the potential to unlock an additional €10 billion of public and private funds for energy efficiency and renewables uptake in buildings.

On 9 July 2018, the revised energy performance of buildings Directive (2018/844/EU) entered into force, amending the existing Directive 2010/31/EU. The new Directive 2018/844/EU introduces targeted amendments to Directive 2010/31/EU, aimed at accelerating the cost-effective renovation of existing buildings, with the vision of a decarbonised building stock by 2050 and the mobilisation of investments. The revision also supports electromobility infrastructure deployment in buildings' car parks and introduces new provisions to enhance smart technologies and technical building systems, including automation.

Member States have 20 months to transpose its provisions into national law (namely until 10 March 2020).

Under the new, revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)

  • EU countries will have to establish stronger long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050, and with a solid financial component
  • A common European scheme for rating the smart readiness of buildings, optional for Member States, will be introduced
  • Smart technologies will be further promoted, for instance through requirements on the installation of building automation and control systems and on devices that regulate temperature at room level.
  • E-mobility will be supported by introducing minimum requirements for car parks over a certain size and other minimum infrastructure for smaller buildings
  • EU countries will have to express their national energy performance requirements in ways that allow cross-national comparisons
  • Health and well-being of building users will be promoted, for instance through an increased consideration of air quality and ventilation.

Under the current Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

  • All new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings by 31 December 2020 (public buildings by 31 December 2018)
  • Energy performance certificates must be issued when a building is sold or rented, and they must also be included in all advertisements for the sale or rental of buildings
  • EU countries must establish inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems or put in place measures with equivalent effect
  • EU countries must set cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for the major renovation of existing buildings, and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements (heating and cooling systems, roofs, walls and so on)
  • EU countries must draw up lists of national financial measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

National reports on energy performance requirements

EU countries have calculated the cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for new as well as renovated buildings in their territory. These requirements must be reviewed every five years and, if necessary, updated in order to reflect technological progress in the building sector.

Buildings under the current 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 government
  • EU governments should only purchase buildings which are highly energy efficient
  • EU countries must draw up long-term national building renovation strategies which can be included in their National Energy Efficiency Action Plans.

Practical support initiatives

To help EU countries properly implement the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive ((EU) 2018/844) and to achieve energy efficiency targets, the European Commission has established practical support initiatives: The Energy Performance of Buildings standards (EPB standards).

These include a set of standards for a common methodology calculating the integrated energy performance of buildings, in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.