Energy performance of buildings directive

The Energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) is, together with the Energy efficiency directive, the main legislative instruments to promote the energy performance of buildings and to boost renovation within the EU.

The EPBD (2010/31/EU) has been in force since 2010 and helps consumers to make informed choices allowing them to save both energy and money. It has also resulted in a positive change of trends in the energy performance of buildings; following the EPBD introduction of energy efficiency requirements in national building codes, buildings of today consume only half as much as typical buildings from the 1980s.

The revised EPBD (2018/844/EU), which amends parts of the 2010 EPBD and introduces new elements, is an important part of the implementation of the Juncker Commission priorities to build "a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy". The Commission launched a public consultation in June 2015 to help underpin the revised directive, including for example targets to accelerate cost-effective renovation of existing buildings, with the vision of a decarbonised building stock by 2050, and the mobilisation of investments. It was adopted on 9 July 2018 and constituted an important and concrete first delivery of the ‘Clean energy for all Europeans’ package and sent a strong political signal on the EU’s commitment to the clean energy transition, as the building sector has a vast potential to contribute to a carbon-neutral and competitive economy.

EU countries have until 10 March 2020 to write the new and revised provisions into national law.

The revised EPBD covers a broad range of policies and supportive measures that will help national governments in the EU boost energy performance of buildings and improve the existing building stock in both a short and long-term perspective. For example, taking both Directives together:

  • EU countries will have to establish stronger long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050, with indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050, measurable progress indicators and with a solid financial component. The strategy should clearly contribute to achieving the energy efficiency targets, as outlined in the National Energy & Climate Plan (NECP);
  • a common European scheme for rating the smart readiness of buildings, optional for EU countries, 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. These will have to be reviewed every five years and, if necessary, updated;
  • health and well-being of building users will be promoted, for instance through an increased consideration of air quality and ventilation;
  • all new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) from 31 December 2020. (Since 31 December 2018, all new public buildings already need to be NZEB);
  • energy performance certificates must be issued when a building is sold or rented, and inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems must be established;
  • 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.

In addition to these requirements, under the Energy efficiency directive (2012/27/EU), EU countries must make energy efficient renovations to at least 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned and occupied by central government, and national governments are recommended to only purchase buildings which are highly energy efficient.

To help EU countries properly implement the amendments to the EPBD and to achieve energy efficiency targets, the European Commission has established practical support initiatives called the energy performance of buildings standards (EPB standards), to be managed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).  In addition, the Commission has published a series of recommendations on both the building renovation and building modernisation aspects of the new rules.


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