Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

On 18th June 2010, the recast of Directive 2010/31/EU on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) was published in the Official Journal of the EU, amending Directive 2002/91/EC. The recast introduces for the first time a European-wide definition of ‘nearly zero energy buildings’. Up until now, only a handful of Member States had definitions for low energy/plus energy or zero carbon buildings, and these were all different. The recast introduces for the first time a European-wide definition of nearly zero energy buildings.

Nearly zero energy buildings are now defined in the EPBD as constructions that have "a very high energy performance". Any energy that they require should come "to a very significant extent" from renewable energy sources (art. 2). This definition requires both a decreased energy use in buildings whilst also bringing about a renewable energy requirement: “The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should to a very significant extent be covered by energy from renewable source, including renewable energy produced on-site or nearby". The phasing-in of renewable energy in buildings means decreasing our import dependency as about 40% of the EU’s energy is consumed in buildings.

New buildings will have to be nearly zero energy buildings by 31st December 2020 with public buildings having to fulfill this standard two years earlier. In effect, the EPBD sets out a renewable energy obligation for buildings by 2020. “EREC welcomes this binding requirement of introducing renewable energy in buildings at EU level by 2020: This provision reinforces the Renewable Energy Directive's provisions on buildings requiring minimum levels of use of renewable energy sources in buildings », stated EREC President Arthouros Zervos (18th November 2009, see Press Releases section). Without an obligation in buildings, it will be difficult to achieve the 2020 renewable energy target. It is therefore important that Member States take a proactive stance and anticipate the introduction of the measure. Increased energy efficiency will furthermore help each and every Member State - and the European Union as a whole - to reach the binding 2020 renewable energy targets.

With both the Renewable Energy Directive and the EPBD paving the way for a gradual phase-in of renewable energy in buildings, it is crucial that Member States take a proactive stance and do their best to coordinate implementation of both pieces of legislation.

Further steps to be taken

The recast of the EPBD is a first step in the right direction. However, it entails no specific targets regarding refurbished buildings which represent 99% of the buildings stock and the first cause of CO2 emissions before new buildings. The Energy Efficiency Action Plan should propose appropriate measures to foster the integration of renewables in such buildings in combination with energy efficiency measures.

Regarding financing the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings’ Directive, the recast foresees that Member States come out with a 'list' of measures and instruments, 'including those of a financial matter', and the European Commission will publish a 'analysis' by 2011 regarding additional money granted under the future financial perspectives to the building sector. According to EREC, the upcoming financial perspectives which will be adopted in 2013 should reflect this urgent priority and enable better financing of renewable energy integration in buildings.


Complementary information

New Buildings

  • Cost-optimal methodology to be established by the European Commission by July 2011 & reported by Member States 30 June 2012 & every 5 years thereafter (including renewable energy sources)
  • MS to set intermediate targets for 2015 for improving the energy performance of new buildings to achieve NZEB by 2021

Existing Buildings

  • Minimum energy performance requirements of all existing buildings, building units and building elements that are subject to major renovation
  • Minimum requirements for building elements (e.g. wall, roof, floor, foundation) when retrofitted or replaced
  • Minimum requirements to be set for building elements to achieve cost-optimal level; renewable energy sources are encouraged
  • Improved quality and promotion of Energy Performance Certificates

To see what EREC has recently done on the building sector, see:




For more information, see the European Commission webpage on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.