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Nearly Zero-Energy Building
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Nearly Zero-Energy Building (NZEB)

Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs) are at the forefront of the EU’s strategy to enhance buildings’ energy performance and reduce the building sector’s overall energy consumption and carbon footprint. NZEBs are characterised by very low energy requirements, with most of their energy consumption covered by renewable sources, preferably produced on-site or nearby. The push for NZEBs directly responds to the EU’s ambitious climate and energy goals, aiming to make all new buildings NZEB by 2021 for public buildings and 2021 onwards for all new buildings.

Goals and Objectives of NZEB

The primary goals and objectives associated with NZEBs include:

Minimizing Energy Consumption: Drastically reduce the energy needed for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and equipment without compromising comfort or usability.

Maximizing Use of Renewable Energy: Ensure that energy from renewable sources significantly covers the low energy demand.

Reducing Carbon Emissions: Contribute to the EU’s climate targets by minimising the carbon footprint of the building sector.

Promoting Technological Innovation: Encourage the development and integration of new energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies in the building sector.

Methodologies or Approaches for Implementation

Implementing NZEB standards involves:

  1. Integrated Design Process: Engaging all stakeholders (architects, engineers, clients, and users) early in the design process to optimise the building’s energy performance.
  2. Energy Efficiency First: Applying energy efficiency measures to the building envelope and systems to minimise energy needs.
  3. Renewable Energy Integration: Incorporating renewable energy technologies (solar panels, wind turbines, biomass systems, etc.) to meet energy demands.
  4. Innovation and Smart Technologies: Utilizing smart building technologies and innovative materials to reduce energy consumption further and enhance comfort.

Integration with EPBD Goals and Key Elements

Cost-optimal Level Calculations: NZEBs are aligned with cost-optimal level calculations by balancing the upfront costs of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems with long-term savings on energy costs, ensuring that achieving NZEB standards is financially viable over the building’s lifecycle.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs): EPCs for NZEBs demonstrate the highest levels of energy performance, serving as an example for the market and incentivising the adoption of NZEB standards. They not only highlight the energy efficiency of these buildings but also their integration of renewable energy sources.

Long-Term Renovation Strategy: NZEBs are a key target within long-term renovation strategies, providing a clear goal for the energy performance of buildings undergoing renovation. The push for NZEBs supports the broader EU objective of transforming the existing building stock into a more energy-efficient and sustainable one.

Smart Readiness of Buildings: NZEBs often incorporate smart technologies to optimise energy use and production, aligning with the EPBD’s emphasis on smart readiness. These technologies enable NZEBs to adapt their energy consumption according to occupancy, external conditions, and the availability of renewable energy, enhancing their efficiency.

NZEBs are critical to the EU’s strategy for a sustainable, energy-efficient future. They exemplify how buildings can play a pivotal role in achieving the EU’s energy and climate targets, serving as a model for the global transition towards more sustainable building practices.

Additional resources about the NZEB

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