Revised EPBD should focus on energy demand – report

(eceee news, 21 Jan 2022) New building standards focusing on energy demand within EPBD are crucial to setting a strong precedent for all buildings, according to a new report from BPIE. The report analyses NZEB standards in six EU geographies: Flanders, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Poland.

According to the report, Ready for carbon neutral by 2050? Assessing ambition levels in new building standards across the EU, climate impact of new buildings in the EU is much too high, and not one of the focus geographies featured has a fixed date by which new construction will meet a net zero energy and carbon level. 

A failure to decarbonise newly constructed buildings could prevent the EU from achieving its climate targets for 2030 and 2050, BPIE writes. New buildings can show the potential of the market when design, high energy performance, and zero-carbon technologies come together in the built environment. They can also lead to technological innovations and gains in the cost effectiveness of realising NZEBs.

“Both the European Commission and EU Member States should read this report as a red flag that the energy transition is not on track,” says BPIE Executive Director Oliver Rapf.  “New buildings are creating a carbon legacy which will generate costs for many decades to come. The revision of the EPBD this year is the opportunity to introduce a zero carbon rule for new buildings.”

The EPBD definition of ‘NZEB’, the standard applying to new buildings, has not been changed for more than 10 years. In the proposal for a revised EPBD, an updated definition is suggested. However, BPIE warns that the current proposal is weak: Zero emission building stock is solely defined in terms of operational energy, and the levels of energy performance are not more ambitious than the ones previously recommended by the Commission in 2016.

BPIE recommends that the revised EPBD should intensify focus on reducing energy demand and implementing the energy efficiency first principle. This would include more ambitious provisions on maximum energy-consumption levels and the use of renewable energy sources. It would also include metrics to measure operational and embedded carbon emissions, prior to setting carbon limits.

View the report here