Article | Future Cities

Energy Performance of Building Directive's Major Implications

On March 14th, 2023, the European Parliament adopted the amendments to the proposal of the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) recast drafted by the European Commission in December 2021. What does this mean for the real estate sector?

March 29, 2023

Energy Performance of Building Directive

The text adopted by the Parliament strongly improves the initial Commission’s text, picturing a more ambitious engagement of the property sector towards the achievement of the 2050 decarbonisation objectives as well as calling for more resilient and sustainable construction practices. 

A major step towards decarbonisation

The text is groundbreaking. Not only because of the several innovative instruments introduced, among others, with the aim of facilitating the decarbonisation of the European existing building stock and increasing its global performance. But most importantly because it declines the concept of “building energy performance” into a more comprehensive “building life cycle environmental performance”. And this for the first time within an EPBD.

In line with this new interpretation, buildings’ performance will be assessed and certified – for both new constructions and renovations – considering the buildings’ Life Cycle Global Warming Potential along their service life. Moreover, minimum requirements regarding indoor building comfort (e.g. thermal, visual and acoustical comfort) and indoor air quality will be also introduced.

More comprehensive Energy Performance Certificates

Consistently with this new understanding of building performance, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) will inform on both operational and embodied life cycle carbon emissions of the given asset as well as on its indoor environmental quality.

A revised scale of energy categories within the EPCs will be introduced, ranging from “A” to “G”, “A” representing a zero emission building. Additionally, a “A+” category could be introduced representing carbon positive buildings or buildings that absorb more greenhouse gas emissions than they emit during their construction and operation. With this regard, the amended Directive’s text underlines the importance of resorting to low polluting construction technologies, passive cooling and solar technologies and carbon-sink strategies. 

Introduction of Building Renovation Passports

Besides the attention set to new constructions (e.g. zero emission buildings by 2028 at the latest), the text also focuses on the decarbonisation of existing buildings and city districts. With this regard, instruments such as building renovation passports, integrated district renovation practices, building connectivity, sustainable mobility and data sharing policies have been introduced. 

Building renovation passports may serve as effective instruments for facilitating and monitoring the decarbonisation of the existing European building stock. They are meant to inform landlords, occupiers or investors about specific renovation practices aimed at decarbonising existing buildings while improving their global sustainability and indoor air quality. 

Measures targeted at reducing the global life cycle carbon emissions of existing buildings can therefore be assessed by contrasting economic and technical feasibility as well as their impact on building management and comfort.

What’s next?

In the coming months, the amendments adopted by the European Parliament will be reviewed by the EU Council, which could then either accept the text or improve it even further. Nevertheless, the basis for an ambitious and farseeing Directive aiming at responding to the biggest challenges of the building construction sector has already been paved.

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