Legislation: Gain knowledge of European Green Deal constraints

Heating and cooling accounts for approximately 50% of the EU’s energy consumption today. 80% of this is used in households.1 The European Green Deal aims to transform the European Union into a greener economy by 2050, which will be achieved through regional laws in each country.2

For the building industry, two main dimensions are implied within these laws: reducing energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Requirements will apply to both private and public buildings, so it’s important for project and property developers to get a good understanding of what steps to take. Read on to find out what you need to know.3

⚠️ What is the difference between the EPBD and the EPB?
The EPBD (The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) is a European directive that will help in the effort to reach the building and renovation goals of the European Green Deal. This directive defines the Energy Performance of Building standards, also known as the EPB.

The need to monitor buildings’ energy performance

Energy performance, an ever-evolving key indicator

Building performance and compliance with the European Green Deal will be monitored in part with the EPB. The Energy Performance of Buildings is represented on a scale from A (best) to G (worst). These evaluations, carried out by a certified professional diagnostician, take into account energy consumption and impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. In some countries, such as France, rents are blocked for all buildings ranked F and G. These buildings will eventually be rendered unavailable to rent.

Revision of the EPBD in 20224
The EPBD is frequently updated according to European objectives, and its last main recast was in 2010.

At the European Commission in 2022, a new text was discussed. It focused on integrating whole-life carbon (WLC) objectives into the evaluation to ensure optimum energy efficiency. This should be added into the EPB indicator by 2025 and monitored in buildings by 2027.

Monitoring your buildings

Within the EPBD, there are building automation and control system (BACS) requirements currently in place. These state that all large non-residential buildings should be equipped with building automation and control functions by 2025. This would simplify the process of measuring building performance and reporting it.

This would introduce the need for a Building Management System (BMS) that manages and monitors all building systems (electrical systems, HVAC systems, renewable energy production, electricity and gas meters). A BMS allows you to adjust the temperature in a building on a daily basis. This makes for a more intelligent and connected building, with a huge reduction in energy consumption. A BMS can be implemented at any time, whether during construction or at a later date.5

Two main objectives for buildings

Reduce energy consumption by 40%

By 2030, each Member State will need to have renovated 15% of their least efficient buildings (energy class G) among all existing constructions. Any new constructions after this date must also only be “carbon neutral”. Two approaches will therefore be necessary: optimise existing buildings and construct green new buildings.

A focus on renovation

75% of EU buildings are energy inefficient. Since 90% of these buildings are expected to still be in use in 2050, improving their energy efficiency through renovation is an essential part of reducing overall energy consumption.6 The total number of building units that Member States must renovate by 2030 is 35 million. To tackle this, the European Commission has implemented the Renovation Wave Strategy. It aims to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure that renovations result in greater energy and resource efficiency.

Financial support for renovation
On a European level, the EEEF (European Energy Efficiency Fund) provides support for renovations and more. For example, the funds can be used to finance energy efficiency projects for both public and private buildings. They also allow countries to develop programmes and incentives to support building renovations.

In terms of local support, some examples include the National Heat Fund in the Netherlands, MaPrimeRénov’ in France, Federal funding for efficient buildings (BEG) in Germany, and the Thermo-modernisation and Renovation Fund in Poland.

Zero-carbon new builds

A Nearly Zero-Energy Building (NZEB) is a building with a very high energy performance that uses mainly renewable energy for what little energy it does consume. The energy performance certificate of this type of building includes the calculation and disclosure of its life-cycle Global Warming Potential (GWP).

The European Union is aiming for carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. This means that as of 1st January 2027, all new buildings occupied or owned by public authorities, and all new buildings with an in-use floor area larger than 2,000 square meters, should be carbon neutral. As of 1st January 2030, all new public buildings should also be carbon neutral.7

⚠️ Standards for NZEBs are different in each country.

Reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 36%8

The building sector is responsible for approximately one-third of energy-related EU emissions, making it a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While some countries have varying approaches to reducing gas emissions, heating represents half of the building industry’s gas emissions everywhere. It should thus be the main focus for everyone.

A greener solution for fossil fuels

The main source of gas emissions in heating and cooling systems comes from the fuel used in gas boilers. With 75% of the energy used to heat the residential sector coming from fossil fuels, implementing alternative solutions is vital.9

The European Green Deal plans to phase out fossil fuels for heating and cooling by 2040. Heat pumps are a more environmentally friendly solution. These systems pump thermal energy into buildings using electricity. Since they don’t burn fuel, this can mean a reduction of up to 58% in CO2 emissions.10

Other harmful sources: concrete and synthetic refrigerants

To effectively comply with the European Green deal, the building industry should significantly reduce its use of every source of gas emissions. Concrete is one such source, representing 4 to 8% of the European Union’s CO2 emissions.11 Another harmful source is synthetic refrigerants, further discouraged by European legislation, which are used in some air conditioning units and emit CO2.

The European Green deal has set out a number of ambitious objectives to improve energy efficiency. Building owners are responsible for achieving these goals, which will be put into practice in the near future. With only 1% of buildings in the European Union currently being renovated each year12, action needs to be taken as soon as possible to ensure compliance.

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