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Energy performance of buildings

Overall state of play

Evaluation finalised: SWD(2016) 408 and SWD(2016) 409, 30 November 2016
Commission proposal adopted on:
• on 30 November 2016, COM(2016)76
• on 15 December 2021, COM(2021)802 (recast proposal)
Legal Act: Adopted Directive (EU) 2018/844; Date of effect: 9 July 2018

State of play, main conclusions, outlook:

The Commission evaluated Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD) and proposed a legislative revision on this basis, including the "Smart finance for smart buildings" initiative (Annex I of the Clean energy for all Europeans of the Communication).

The energy efficiency contribution to moderation of demand is one of the key dimensions to achieve a resilient Energy Union. In this context especially the buildings sector has an important efficiency potential. The buildings stock is the largest single energy consumer in the EU and represents 40% of EU energy consumption. In addition, about 75% of the housing stock is energy inefficient and has a high cost-effective energy efficiency potential. The evaluation found that the EPBD resulted in a strengthening of minimum energy performance requirements in building codes in Member States between 2005 and 2013 of e.g. 66% for new buildings in France and 60% for new and existing residential buildings in Ireland.

Efficiency could be boosted if renovation rates would increase from the current estimated 0.5-1.2% to above 2%. However there is a need to stimulate investment by buildings owners and to address the issue that financing is often hampered by the small-scale of many building projects.

The evaluation revealed relatively limited regulatory shortcomings and supported maintaining the key elements and existing architecture of the Directive. It showed that there was however some scope for simplifying and streamlining outdated measures, and for enhancing compliance through fine tuning of existing provisions and better linking them with financial support. Additionally the evaluation pointed to the scope for modernisation of the Directive in the light of technological developments (including ICT, smart building systems, e-vehicle charging in building car parks etc) and the need to increase building renovation rates while supporting the decarbonisation of buildings in the long-term. This was necessary as the Directive was defined having a 2020 perspective in mind and it should be made ready for 2030 and beyond.

The main objective of the review of the EPBD, including the 'Smart Financing for Smart Buildings' initiative was therefore to address these shortcomings and to promote a greater take-up of energy efficiency in the buildings sector. This would help deliver cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions and contribute to ensuring the security of energy supply in the EU. The initiative is also expected to have a positive impact on the overall economy and especially SMEs by improving the competitiveness of European construction and energy services industries while boosting innovation and creating or retaining jobs in Europe.

The new recast proposal tabled in 2021 has two main objectives: (1) contribute to reducing GHG emissions of buildings and final energy consumption by 2030 and (2) ensure that buildings make an adequate contribution to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The specific objectives are: to increase the rate and depth of building renovations; to improve information on energy performance and sustainability of buildings with the use of digital tools; to ensure that new buildings are in line with the 2050 climate neutrality objective; and to integrate buildings into decarbonised and digitalised energy systems.

The revision of the EPBD by the Commission amends an existing Directive for the third time and largely relies on structures and rules that are already in place. Nevertheless, public authorities will face costs linked to national transposition, monitoring and enforcement, and certain administrative costs incurred to comply with obligations to provide information. The latter includes elements of administrative simplification brought forward by the digitalisation of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and databases. The monitoring of the building stock would be facilitated by the availability of data collected by digital tools, thereby reducing administrative costs. Digital EPCs have the potential to reduce compliance costs for building owners, if interoperability with national databases and buildings permitting procedures is ensured.