Proposal to increase energy requirements for buildings in the EU

The construction and real estate sector accounts for a significant share of the society’s overall environmental impact. There is therefore an increasing interest within the EU to address the climate impact of buildings when measures are taken to achieve the climate targets made legally binding by the European Climate Law.

As a part of the implementation of the European Green Deal and the achievement of the EU’s enhanced climate targets, including the interim target of at least 55% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, the Commission adopted the ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package in June 2021. The package aims to update and strengthen EU legislation in the field of climate, energy and transport, including a recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). As the Commission estimates that buildings account for more than a third of the Union’s emissions, it is crucial that these emissions are reduced through increased energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption.

Intensive work is therefore underway at several levels in the EU to ensure that buildings in the Union are made more energy-efficient and become so-called zero-emission buildings with very good energy performance and a very low energy requirement, which will mainly be met by the production of renewable energy on site. In the past, the European Commission has set a target for all buildings in the EU to be zero-emission buildings by 2030 and for publicly owned non-residential buildings by 2027. In March 2023, the European Parliament adopted more ambitious requirements for the energy performance of buildings and shorter timeframes for buildings to become zero-emission buildings, in order to reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The amendment to the EPBD requires newly constructed buildings to be zero-emission buildings from 2028. For buildings owned, operated or used by public authorities, the target is set for 2026. Energy efficiency improvements will be required in the renovation of buildings, with the possibility for Member States to make certain exceptions, e.g. for buildings with historical value. In addition, the aim for residential buildings is to improve their energy rating (on a scale from A to G, with the latter being the least energy efficient). In addition, there is an aspiration to equip new buildings with solar panels by 2028, if technically and economically feasible. For residential buildings undergoing major renovation, the target for solar power technology is set at 2032. Finally, stricter requirements will also apply to enabling charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and bicycle parking spaces.

Final negotiations between the EU institutions will now take place before the final wording of the Directive is established and the revised Directive enters into force and is transposed into national law.

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