Energy

Energy performance of buildings directive

The building sector is crucial for achieving the EU's energy and environmental goals. At the same time, better and more energy efficient buildings improve the quality of citizens' life while bringing additional benefits to the economy and the society.

To boost energy performance of buildings, the EU has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU (EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU. Together, the directives promote policies that will help

  • achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050
  • create a stable environment for investment decisions
  • enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices to save energy and money

Following the introduction of energy performance rules in national building codes, buildings today consume only half as much as typical buildings from the 1980s.

Both directives were amended, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, in 2018 and 2019. In particular, the Directive amending the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2018/844/EU) introduces new elements and sends a strong political signal on the EU’s commitment to modernise the buildings sector in light of technological improvements and increase building renovations.  

EU countries need to transpose the new and revised rules into national law by 10 March 2020.

The Commission has introduced a renovation wave of public and private buildings, as part of the European Green Deal. It aims to take further action and create the necessary conditions to scale up renovations and reap the significant saving potential of the building sector.

Measures to improve the building stock

The EPBD covers a broad range of policies and supportive measures that will help national EU governments boost energy performance of buildings and improve the existing building stock. For example

  • EU countries must establish strong long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050, with indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050. The strategies should contribute to achieving the national energy and climate plans (NECPs) energy efficiency targets
  • EU countries must set cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for existing buildings undergoing major renovation, and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements like heating and cooling systems, roofs and walls
  • 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
  • electro-mobility is supported by introducing minimum requirements for car parks over a certain size and other minimum infrastructure for smaller buildings
  • an optional European scheme for rating the ‘smart readiness’ of buildings is introduced
  • smart technologies are promoted, including through requirements on the installation of building automation and control systems, and on devices that regulate temperature at room level
  • health and well-being of building users is addressed, for instance through the consideration of air quality and ventilation
  • 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 governments. National governments are recommended to only purchase buildings that are highly energy efficient. 

The Commission has also published a series of recommendations on the building renovation (EU)2019/786 and building modernisation (EU)2019/1019 aspects of the new rules.

Energy performance of buildings standards

The Commission has established a set of standards and accompanying technical reports to support the EPBD called the energy performance of buildings standards (EPB standards). These are managed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN). 

Facts and figures

Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of the CO2 emissions. Buildings are therefore the single largest energy consumer in Europe.

At present, about 35% of the EU's buildings are over 50 years old and almost 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient. At the same time, only about 1% of the building stock is renovated each year.

Renovation of existing buildings can lead to significant energy savings, as it could reduce the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lower CO2 emissions by about 5%.

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

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