EPBD must focus on reducing energy needs

eceee believes that energy efficiency first means that energy needs should be reduced as far as possible in order to avoid wasting energy from any source, including precious renewables. This principle is necessary to secure long-term sustainable building, avoid disappointment by users of nZEB and to save energy, resources, land impact and money. eceee now publishes an updated technical note on the EPBD Annex I, where these issues are defined.

See eceee explanatory note on EPBD Annex I (pdf, revised 1 Dec 2017).

In spite of much technical work, including work funded by the Commission, and of the extreme urgency of addressing the Climate crisis, the proposals currently on the table for the revision of Annex I of the EPBD are going to produce a regression compared to the 2010 version, by removing the double indicator of performance of buildings and reducing it only to one, primary energy (not better specified in the texts). This is in patent contradiction with the Standard ISO EN 52000 produced under Mandate 480 by the EU Commission. In fact, the Standard states: “the use of only one requirement, e.g. the numeric indicator of primary energy use, is misleading”. 

According to their own stated objectives, while drafting revisions to the EPBD and its Annex I, the EU institutions should respond to the question: what parameters are needed for successfully promoting “efficiency first”, high share of renewables, transparency of Energy Performance Certificates?

A clear answer based on physics is given by the International and European Standards on buildings. The standards have been produced under Mandate 480 by the EU Commission, with an investment of two years of intense technical work and €5m of taxpayers money.  EN ISO 52000 states: “the use of only one requirement, e.g. the numeric indicator of primary energy use, is misleading”.

The standard explains which indicators are needed (a complete definition of the indicators and explanatory graphs are presented here.

  • energy needs for heating and cooling (for quantifying and promoting the reduction of energy losses through the envelope and ventilation)
  • total primary energy use (for quantifying and promoting the reduction of inefficiencies in the systems - e.g. avoid burning biomass in an inefficient burner)
  • non renewable primary energy use (for quantifying and promoting the reduction of the non-renewable fraction within total primary energy use)

The indicators energy needs and total primary energy do respond to the “energy efficiency first” principle, while the parameter non renewable primary energy responds to the objective of “increasing the share of renewables”.

We only deliver transparent information to building owners and users, investors and industry if all of them are explicitly reported, and there is clear guidance for avoiding waste of energy at every level.

Our review and analysis concludes that the most rational approach to the issues raised in the note is to explicitly maintain 2 indicators, as in EPBD 2010, for describing the performance of buildings.  According to physics and ISO EN 52000 those indicators are energy needs and primary energy (in both its declinations total and non-renewable).

See eceee explanatory note on EPBD Annex I (pdf).

eceee resources

  • eceee’s response on the public consultation on the evaluation of the EPBD (Oct 2015).
  • eceee memo on NZEB definitions submitted to the Commission (Dec 2015).
  • Steering through the Maze #2 (revised) - Understanding (the very European concept of) Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (11 April 2014) (pdf).
  • Steering through the Maze #4 - Capturing the collective knowledge base on building retrofit (6 May 2011) (pdf).
  • Steering through the Maze #1 - The recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). (Updated 9 March 2010) (pdf).

    EU documents

    eceee columns

    Fiona Hall: Buildings are key to meeting our targets
    Rod Janssen: Delivering Energy Efficiency
    Rod Janssen: To the point: The EPBD countdown
    Rod Janssen: (Interview in BUILD UP) Leadership for Energy Efficiency

    Other links