Nearly zero-energy buildings and their energy performance

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Energy performance of Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs)

The primary energy requirements of nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) vary between 0 and 160 kWh/m²a for residential buildings. Even bigger bandwidths can be expected when all Member States have their own specific nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) definitions in place. In some of the countries, these requirements are  combined with specific requirements on energy needs and minimum shares of renewable energy.


The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) requires all new buildings from 2021 on (public buildings from 2019 on) to be nearly nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB). According to Article 2, "'nearly Zero-Energy Building' means a building that has a very high energy performance, as determined in accordance with Annex I. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent from renewable sources, including sources produced on-site or nearby".

Tracking the Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs) market

As concrete numeric thresholds or ranges are not defined in the EPBD, these requirements leave a lot of space to personal interpretation and thus allow Member States to define their nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) in a very flexible way, taking into account their country specific climate conditions, their primary energy factors, ambition levels, calculation methodologies and building traditions. This is also the main reason why existing nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) definitions differ significantly from country to country.

National Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs) definitions

According to the Concerted Action (CA) EPBD report*, about 40% of Member States (MSs) do not have a detailed definition of nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) yet. About 60% of Member States have laid out their detailed definition of nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) in a legal document, but several Member States emphasised the draft status of the definition, or that the definition might be updated later on.