EU Council and Parliament agree on updated Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, advancing the ‘Fit for 55’ initiative
Understanding the impact of the updated Energy Performance of Buildings Directive on the ‘Fit for 55’ goals
On December 7, 2023, the European Council and Parliament agreed on a new version of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). This agreement is a major step forward in the EU’s efforts to reduce its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Background – European Green Deal, Fit for 55 package & EPBD
Buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy usage, over half of its gas consumption, and 36% of energy-related greenhouse emissions. Around 35% of EU buildings are over 50 years old, 75% are energy inefficient, and the annual energy renovation rate is just 1%. The European Green Deal is the EU’s strategy for a net-zero emission economy by 2050, featuring various policies, including the Fit for 55 package. This package targets a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels. Within this framework, the EPBD sets the technical guidelines for lowering building emissions.
Fit for 55 — exploring the targets & key features of the updated EPBD
In the latest update to the EPBD, improvements are being made towards sustainability and energy efficiency in the EU’s building sector. They include:
New carbon footprint requirements
The updated EPBD mandates calculating and reporting buildings’ carbon footprints in line with EN 15978 and Level(s), a significant expansion from the existing EPBD’s focus on operational energy consumption. The implementation of this carbon footprint calculation will start with larger buildings exceeding 2000 square meters in 2027 — and extend to all buildings by 2030.
Zero-emission standard for new buildings
Among these changes is the introduction of a zero-emission standard for all new buildings. Starting January 1, 2028, for publicly-owned buildings and January 1, 2030, for all other new constructions, these buildings must have zero on-site fossil fuel emissions, with some specific exceptions allowed.
Enhancing energy efficiency in buildings
The updated EPBD outlines objectives for EU countries to boost the energy efficiency of buildings, particularly those that are currently least efficient. The directive requires a reduction in energy consumption for residential buildings by 16% by 2030 and 20%-22% by 2035, primarily through upgrading the least efficient buildings. Similarly, non-residential buildings are required to undergo improvements, with a focus on the most energy-inefficient ones by set deadlines. The EPBD also introduces uniform Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) across the EU.
Renovation Initiatives in the revised EPBD
The updated EPBD presents strategies for EU member states to improve building renovations and lower emissions. It involves the development of national strategies to make buildings more energy-efficient, introducing renovation passport programs to assist owners in achieving zero-emission buildings, and establishing comprehensive support centers for homeowners and SMEs pursuing renovation.
Recap of the revised EPBD agreement under the ‘Fit for 55’package
- Under the updated EPBD, all new buildings larger than 2000 square meters will initially need to report their carbon footprints according to EN 15978 standards and Level(s) guidelines. From 2030 onwards, this requirement will extend to all new buildings.
- Under the updated EPBD, EU member states are required to establish targets for improving the energy performance of existing buildings.
- It requires EU member states to implement measures to improve the energy performance of existing buildings, including public buildings.
- The EU member states are required to use a variety of measures to promote energy renovation, including financial incentives, technical assistance, and awareness campaigns.
Revised EPBD — timeline and what’s next
- Early 2024: The revised EPBD is expected to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council.
- 20 days following publication in the Official Journal of the European Union: The revised EPBD will enter into force.
- 2 years: The EU member states will have to transpose the revised EPBD into national laws in 2 years.
- The revised EPBD is essential in the EU’s efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
To succeed in the green transition, we need to make sure that the transformation changes people’s lives for the better. We want to help people to make their homes more energy efficient, more comfortable and healthy. And this is a win-win for citizens: improving the energy performance of buildings will result in both lower energy bills and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s agreement strikes the right balance, with European standards, national implementation, individual autonomy, and financial support.
Thursday, December 7, 2023
The full text of the agreement can be found here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2023-0068_EN.pdf
More information on the EPBD can be found here: https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/energy-efficiency/energy-efficient-buildings/energy-performance-buildings-directive_en
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