Boosting building renovation rates – EERAdata provides feedback to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

Buildings are a crucial component of our fight against climate change, as they make up almost 40 % of the total global energy consumption.  As climate change continues to challenge temperature levels around the globe, building stock renovation rates must increase significantly to contribute to the realisation of the EU’s climate and energy goals. In this blog, our partners at Trilateral Research summarise the feedback provided by EERAdata to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

In March 2021, the European Commission launched an open public consultation on revising the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. This consultation was launched to gather opinions from stakeholders and citizens on how the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) can be improved. The revision of the EPBD was announced through the EC’s Renovation Wave communication adopted on 14 October 2020. The purpose of the revision is to create a surge in EU building stock renovation rates and contribute to the realisation of the EU’s climate and energy goals.

The EERAdata consortium has provided feedback to the EPBD consultation, combining expertise from researchers in climate and energy, law, ethics, and disaster resilience.

The feedback was structured through a questionnaire format and revolved around key questions regarding how the EPBD can best be revised. The feedback also focused on several areas of legislative and non-legislative reinforcement in relation to building renovation and decarbonisation of buildings. In summary, the feedback obtained agreed on the following:

  • The concept of zero emission buildings should be defined in the EPBD. It should include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions covering the whole lifecycle of buildings and should refer to a timeline to gradually phase out fossil fuels, in particular for heating and cooling systems.
  • The provisions of the EPBD on long term renovation strategies (LTRS) should be modified more regularly than once every 10 years. They should be updated every four years and designed more flexibly with predefined topics and goals for the member countries.
  • The monitoring of objectives identified by Member States in their LTRS should be strengthened:
    • Through a specific monitoring tool to be developed by the Commission
    • By requiring a 5-year revision of the LTRS
    • By developing a common template and requesting specific data and indicators, in order to make the information provided by Member States more comparable
  • The EPBD should include tax deductions as well as targeted and easy to understand funding for several projects over a longer time span.
  • The EPBD should include measures to report on the whole life-cycle carbon emissions from all new private and public buildings.
  • There should be a harmonisation of the definition of nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB) which also allows Member States to set their respective NZEB targets and thresholds, considering specific national context.
  • The current definition of NZEB should be updated to put clear limits to energy use and minimum levels of renewables and incorporate green-house gas emissions targets.
  • Mandatory minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) should be introduced and applied to buildings on a building element level (for the building envelope and/or the technical building systems including heating and cooling).
  • The requirements for targeting the installation of electro mobility charging points in car parks adjacent to buildings are effective as they are and do not need to be strengthened.
  • Harmonisation of energy performance certificates (EPC) is required to accelerate the improvement of building performance and can be achieved through the introduction of more data.
  • The building renovation passports (BRP), which provide a long-term, step-by-step renovation roadmap for a specific building, can be improved through:
    • Guidelines on how they can support the objectives of the LTRS
    • Making funds such as the European Energy Efficiency Fund or ELENA, available to Member States for BRP development and implementation.
    • Legal requirement to be introduced in the EPBD review for the Commission to develop a voluntary BRP scheme.
  • The Smart Readiness Indicators scheme, which has the potential to promote the digitalisation of buildings, can support the role of buildings in smart sector integration by supporting the development of links between the SRI and other schemes such as the EPCs, building renovation passports, etc.
  • Public financial incentives could be used to stimulate deeper renovations across the EU, through quantification of tax flows and socio-economic benefits for public buildings and legislative barriers combined with tax incentives for private real estate.
  • The most important policy areas that address energy poverty need to be further reinforced, including:
    • Minimum energy performance standards, that limits monthly net expenditure of the inhabitants, coupled with financing where appropriate.
    • The affordable housing initiative.

The EERAdata consortium is directly involved with research that seeks to improve the energy performance of buildings and alleviate energy poverty in the EU. We are currently addressing the challenge of assessing the impacts of energy efficiency-based renovations in the context of the European building stock. We have integrated our research and findings from this project into our response to the EC, highlighting the impact that H2020 projects can have on directing policy and furthering the goals of the European Commission, and Europe as a whole.