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Energy Efficiency of Buildings
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Energy Efficiency of Buildings

To boost energy performance of buildings, the EU has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) (hereafter referred as EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU).

Together, these 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.

Both directives were amended in 2018 and 2019, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package.

The Directive amending the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2018/844/EU) introduced new elements and sent a strong political signal on the EU’s commitment to modernise the buildings sector in light of technological improvements and to increase building renovations.

In October 2020, the Commission presented its Renovation wave strategy, as part of the European Green Deal. It contains an action plan with concrete regulatory, financing and enabling measures to boost building renovation. Its objective is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of buildings by 2030and to foster deep renovation. A revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is one of its key initiatives.

In December 2021, the Commission proposed a revision of the directive. It upgrades the existing regulatory framework to reflect higher ambitions and more pressing needs in climate and social action, while providing EU countries with the flexibility needed to take into account the differences in the building stock across Europe.

It also sets out how Europe can achieve a zero-emission and fully decarbonised building stock by 2050. The proposed measures will increase the rate of renovation, particularly for the worst-performing buildings in each country. The revised directive will modernise the building stock, making it more resilient and accessible. It will also support better air quality, the digitalisation of energy systems for buildings and the roll-out of infrastructure for sustainable mobility. Crucially, the revised directive facilitates more targeted financing to investments in the building sector, complementing other EU instruments supporting vulnerable consumers and fighting energy poverty.

The main measures in the new proposal are:

  • the gradual introduction of minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) to trigger renovation of the worst performing buildings
  • a new standard for new buildings and a more ambitious vision for buildings to be zero-emission
  • enhanced long-term renovation strategies, to be renamed National Building Renovation Plans
  • increased reliability, quality and digitalisation of Energy Performance Certificates; with energy performance classes to be based on common criteria
  • a definition of deep renovation and the introduction of building renovation passports
  • modernisation of buildings and their systems, and better energy system integration (for heating, cooling, ventilation, charging of electric vehicles, renewable energy).

The proposed revision of the directive is now being considered by the Council and the European Parliament.

All EU countries must establish a long-term renovation strategy to support the renovation of their national building stock into a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050. The requirement for EU countries to adopt a long-term renovation strategy is set out in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU), which was revised in 2018 (2018/844/EU). These strategies are part of EU countries’ integrated National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).

National Long-Term Building Renovation Strategies

The long-term renovation strategies must include an overview of the national building stock policies and actions to stimulate a cost-effective deep renovation of buildings and target the worst performing buildings, split-incentive dilemmas, market failures, energy poverty and public buildings. An overview of national initiatives to promote smart technologies and skills and education in the construction and EE sectors is also a key part of these strategies.

The strategies must also include a roadmap with measures and measurable progress indicators, as well as indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050. They also need to contain an estimate of the expected energy savings and wider benefits and the contribution of the renovation of buildings to the Union’s energy efficiency target.

A solid financial component is key to underpin long-term renovation strategies, particularly through an effective use of public funding, aggregation and de-risking.

National Building Renovation Plans

In December 2021, the Commission proposed to review the current framework within the revision of the EPBD and suggests to strengthen the long-term renovation strategies towards ‘Building renovation plans’. These national plans should be submitted every 5 years, following the submission of a draft plan, and should have clear and specific chapters, based on a common template. The plans will include national targets(instead of indicative milestones) in a more unified and comparable approach, an outline of the investment needs for their implementation and an overview of policies and measures.

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