What is the Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive?

Governments in the EU have set ambitious climate change targets and pledged to achieve net-zero by 2050 or sooner.

Buildings are one of the largest sources of energy consumption in Europe. In October 2020,  the European Commission (EC) published its Renovation Wave Strategy for improving the energy performance of buildings.

The revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a key component of this strategy. We will discuss this strategy and the new proposals in more detail below.

What is the Renovation Wave Strategy?

In October 2020, the EC released its Renovation Wave Strategy which aims to double renovation rates in the next ten years and improve the energy performance of buildings in the EU.

The Renovation Wave Strategy will focus on three main areas:

  1. Decarbonising heating and cooling systems in buildings.
  2. Renovating public buildings such as hospitals and schools.
  3. Tackling energy poverty upgrading the poorest performing buildings.

It is estimated that roughly 35 million buildings could be renovated by 2030. This will reduce carbon emissions significantly and create up to 160,000 additional green jobs in the construction sector according to the EC.

The major goal of these measures is to reduce Europe’s CO2 emissions and enhance the quality of life for people living in and using buildings across the region.

What is the Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive?

The EPDB upgrades the existing scheme and sets additional climate and social goals. The directive lays out how Europe will decarbonise its existing property market and achieve net-zero by 2050.

The revised measures will improve the rate of renovation and help the worst-performing buildings become more energy-efficient. The new directive also sets out targeted investment plans to renovate the building sector in each member state.

Minimum energy standards

The new directive introduces minimum energy standards across Europe. Each country can set its own standards in addition to the minimum requirements. For instance, in the UK, the government has pledged to make all buildings achieve an energy performance rating of C or above by 2035 or sooner. 

Why are these measures being introduced?

The ECEEE states that buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of the EU’s energy consumption, and 36% of carbon emissions from energy. Energy-efficient renovations will play an essential part in helping Europe achieve net-zero by 2050.

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy prices, fight fuel poverty, and support the economy by creating new jobs in the construction sector. 

How will the proposal support the transition to renewable energy?

Transitioning away from traditional fossil fuels and towards renewable energy will play a crucial part in reducing carbon emissions in Europe. The EC has highlighted the need to phase out fossil fuels in heating by 2040 to achieve carbon neutrality targets.

To encourage the uptake of renewable heating systems, the EPDB includes a requirement that new buildings do not generate carbon emissions on-site. Fossil fuels boilers will be phased out over time which will reduce building emissions and support the decarbonisation of the building sector.

What are Energy Performance Certificates and why are they important?

An EPC is a document that gives a property an energy rating of A-G, with A being the most efficient and G being the worst-performing buildings. According to experts at Nexus, an energy survey can help reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint.

The EPBD includes measures to make energy performance certificates (EPCs) clearer and more reliable. The proposed measures cover how a quality EPC should be carried out and how it should be issued. They also facilitate a clearer understanding of EPCs across borders. This will help to ensure consistency and make it easier to classify buildings based on their energy performance.

Summary

The EC released the Renovation Wave Strategy to improve renovation rates and support the decarbonisation of buildings in Europe. The EPDB devised this strategy and introduced new measures to boost the rate of renovation and help the worst-performing buildings become more energy-efficient.

Governments across Europe are introducing measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. This includes the uptake of renewable energy and the introduction of incentives such as green mortgages and grants. Good progress has been made to lower carbon emissions, but much more work has to be done to decarbonise Europe’s buildings and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.