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Nearly Zero Energy Hotels (neZEH)

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Nearly Zero Energy Hotels (neZEH) scope was to accelerate the rate of large scale renovations of existing hotels into Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) by:
  • providing technical advice to committed hoteliers and demonstrating the feasibility of such investments through pilot projects
  • undertaking training and capacity building activities
  • promoting front runners at national and EU/International level through integrated communication campaigns, increasing awareness of NZEB benefits and challenging more SMEs to invest in NZE refurbishment projects.
neZEH is a response to the European Directive on the energy performance of buildings (2010/31/EU, EPBD recast), contributing directly to the EU 2020 and 2050 targets and supporting Member States to their national plans for increasing the number of NZEBs.neZEH targets SME hotels which represent 90% of the European hospitality market. The neZEH consortium worked within the national legal frameworks to tackle the main barriers preventing SME hotel owners from investing in major refurbishments towards NZE consumption levels. 16 hotels benefited from energy audits, feasibility studies, technical advice on tendering, contracting, monitoring and financing, staff training and increased market visibility. The neZEH best practices demonstrate the advantages of being an NZEB and foster replications in the hotel sector. Practical tools and informational materials are available to hoteliers for scaling-up.  


  • Sixteen (16) hotels across seven (7) European countries (Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain and Sweden) have been engaged as neZEH pilot hotels and follow large scale renovation plans to accomplish NZEB goals resulting to 1.123 toe/year savings in primary energy and 2.556 tCO2e/year reduction of GHG emissions. In total, 6.310.297€ are to be invested and 332 toe/year renewable energy will be triggered by the renovations in order for the pilot hotels to achieve neZEH status. The neZEH hotels demonstrate the feasibility of renovations towards NZEB in the hotel sector, acting as examples of best practice and inspiring more hoteliers in EU to invest in energy renovation projects.
  • Capacity building activities engaged more than 1.600 hotel owners and building developers to the neZEH vision; practical tools are available online, including training materials and tips, marketing guidelines and promotional tools including the neZEH e-toolkit to empower SME hoteliers to assess their energy consumption and to identify solutions for energy efficiency improvement towards NZEB; the consortium upgraded and adapt the e-tool developed by Hotel Energy Solutions project.
  • 56.000+ hotel owners/managers informed; methodology and results are available to any interested hotel for scaling up. More than 490.000 citizens and stakeholders have been reached in EU level, due to the targeted dissemination activities and the support of involved hotel associations.
  • National neZEH networks have created supporting exchanges between the demand (SME hotel owners) and supply (sustainable building sector) sides.
  • Policy intervention at EU and national level; the neZEH consortium elaborated position papers with recommendations for policy makers for removing barriers and upscaling renovations towards NZE in the accommodation sector. The EU position paper served as the basis for the discussion at a High Level Event hosted in the European Parliament and gathers the results from a fruitful debate in policy level.

Lessons learned

  • SME hotels (90% of EU hospitality sector) face big challenges in their refurbishment decision: lack of funding, technical and legislative limits (especially historical ones). Public support is very important: financial, informational/technical support (awareness raising, capacity building), favorable regulatory framework (harmonized policies, coordination between competent authorities).
  • Hoteliers engagement in sustainability is crucial to achieve and maintain NZE level. This includes a strong focus on behavioral change: staff needs to be trained and engaged and guests have to be informed and inspired.
  • Hotels represent a specific building type as a high share of delivered energy is used for non-hosting functions: a number of energy intensive operations associated with customers’ comfort and expectations, therefore linked to their competitiveness and viability. NZEB definitions should recognize this aspect, also different targets should be set for new and existing buildings.
  • Hotels need tailored technical assistance and financial incentives. A major barrier is the complexity of the renovation project requiring financial, technical, organizational and legal insights. Hoteliers consider the available financing tools too complex. Independent, documented energy audits were proved key factor in their decision making.
  • Moving towards a low carbon growth requires holistic resource management approach for hotels (energy, water consumption, waste management, sustainable mobility etc).

Partners and coordinator

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Environmental Engineering Department/Technical University of Crete
Contact point: 
Prof. Theocharis Tsoutsos
+30 28210 37825


In brief

01/04/2013 to 31/03/2016
Contract number: 

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