Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

What is the EPBD?

Buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption in the European Union. The indications are that this will increase, simply because of growth in the number of buildings over time. As a result, if the European Union is to reduce its energy dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential that the energy consumption per building is reduced, and that the proportion of energy from renewable sources is increased.

There have been two Energy Performance of Buildings Directives (EPBDs) adopted by the European Parliament and Council. They aim to reduce energy consumption in both the residential and non-domestic sectors by raising awareness of energy use, mandating minimum standards, and requiring inspections of key plant. It seems likely that the Directives will lead to substantial increases in investment in energy efficiency measures within relevant buildings.

History and targets of the EPBD

Under the Kyoto protocol of 1997, the European Union was required to make greenhouse gas reductions of 8%, ie. to reduce its annual emissions by 330 million tonnes by 2008-2012. The original Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (‘EPBD-1’) was a core response to this target; when the Directive was adopted in December 2002 there were 160 million buildings in the EU, and it was anticipated that the Directive could deliver 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide reduction by 2010.

By 2007 the EU had committed to even more stringent targets - in particular to a reduction of 20% in the Union’s total energy consumption by 2020, and a binding target for renewable energy of 20% of total supply by the same year. Individual Member States have set their own national targets, which, if achieved, will total or exceed the EU target. For example, the UK is committed to a reduction in overall national carbon emissions of 80% by 2050, and the Government has indicated that in order to achieve this there must be a near-100% reduction in the emissions from buildings – both new and old, both residential and nondomestic.

The 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide reductions expected from EPBD-1 only amounted to 1% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and renewable energy sources only contributed 8% of total energy supply at that time - clearly there was a need for a strengthening of the provisions of the Directive and a more thorough and rapid implementation. In addition, it was acknowledged that there had been a wide range of responses from Member States to the provisions of the original Directive, and that this variability should not be allowed to continue. Hence the second directive (known as the ‘recast EPBD’ or ‘EPBD-2’) was drafted and was adopted in May 2010, effectively replacing the original. It generally tightened up the performance standards, reduced the building size thresholds which trigger certain actions, and strengthened the requirements for display of information and inspection of plant.

Articles of EPBD-2

EPBD-2, formally ‘Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council’, contains the following relevant Articles, some of which replace or amend EPBD-1; others are new:

Article 3 - there must be a national calculation methodology.

Article 4 - minimum energy performance requirements must be set.

Article 5 - the EC will establish a framework for assessing cost-optimality.

Article 6 - all new buildings must consider low- and zero-carbon technologies.

Article 7 - all existing buildings (and individual building elements) must meet the standards of Article 4 when renovated.

Article 8 - performance standards must be set for new and replacement ‘technical building systems’ (heating, hot water, air conditioning and large ventilation).

Article 9 - the number of ‘nearly zero-energy’ buildings to be increased. Mandatory for newbuild (public sector soonest); non-mandatory targets and encouragement for existing buildings.

Article 10 - list of financial incentives and barriers to improving energy performance must be drawn up.

Article 11 - energy performance certificates (EPCs) must be issued at key stages of a building’s life; public authorities must implement the recommendations.

Article 12 - EPCs must be issued for construction, selling or renting, and in any case for public buildings. All sale and rental advertisements must include the headline energy performance indicator.

Article 13 - public buildings (including smaller ones) must display their EPCs.

Article 14 - larger boilers must be inspected, or advice given.

Article 15 - larger air-conditioning systems must be inspected, or advice given.

Article 17 - only qualified and accredited independent experts may fulfil Articles 11, 14 and 15.

Article 18 - independent QA systems must be established for certification and inspections.

Article 20 - mandatory information campaigns on enhancing buildings’ energy performance; training must be made available.

Article 21 - stakeholders must be consulted, especially re. nearly zero-energy buildings.

Article 27 - penalties for non-compliance must be introduced.