EPBD implementation in PassREg countries

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Major Highlights of EPBD

  • As of 31 December 2020, all new buildings in the EU will have to consume as little energy as possible, according to new national standards for “Nearly zero-energy buildings”(NZEB);
  • The energy needed will be 'to a very large extent' supplied from renewable sources, produced on-site or nearby.
  • Public authorities should set an example by building, buying or renting all their new premises according to the new 'nearly zero energy building' standard as of 31 December 2018.
  • A harmonised calculation methodology to push-up MS minimum energy performance requirements towards a cost-optimal level is set out in the Directive in a definition and an annex,
  • The cost-optimal levels should be defined taking into account to the life-cycle of the buildings;
  • A more rigorous procedure for issuing energy performance certificates will be required; the correctness of performance certification will be strictly checked.
  • Penalties for non-compliance will be introduced by each MS. The penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

The Passive House concept in relation to the current EU regulations

A comprehensive set of strategic and legislative documents approved by the EC and adopted by the EU Parliament in the past decade or so set the scene for dramatic surge of the “green economy”, related not only to energy and climate issues, but also to industry, employment and other broader societal challenges. Particular to the building sector, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) recast from 2010 , the RES Directive (2009) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012) proved to be a major driver of changes in spite of an unfavourable economic climate. What is really important in these legislative norms (which are still to be fully transposed to EU member states legislations) is the combination of technical with social, economic and environmental requirements, which are supposed and expected to respond to the national specifities and to provide for sustainable growth. With respect to the NZEB definition which has to be developed by each member state according to the EPBD and which will come into force since 2020 throughout Europe, the Passive House standard stands in an extremely favourable position. Achievement of the Passive House Standard is determined by a set of objective performance-based criteria and achievement of these criteria is made possible via the six basic design and construction principles . While the performance limits are the same worldwide and the underlying principles remain unchanged, providing “nearly zero” energy demand, the actual design and execution of a Passive House is tailored to its surroundings and will thus vary with the location, climate and usage of a building. The Passive House Standard’s uniform definition and clear criteria make it especially suitable for a harmonised European market, enabling international players to speak the same language and strive for the same defined goals. As related to the economic and environmental criteria, the situation is even more beneficial for the wide-spread use of the concept. The use of RES in combination with Passive House standard further reduces the already low CO2 emissions of Passive Houses. Moreover, when the use of renewable energy meets a significant portion of already reduced energy needs, PHs also cover the requirements for optimal profitability over the life cycle of the building: the small cost of RES installations and the big energy savings repay the small (in some cases already non-existent) incremental costs in ever shortening periods. With thousands of closely monitored examples, it has become increasingly evident that Passive House is completely in accord with the EU Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD recast of 2010). The excellent building physics, quality and comfort of Passive Houses buildings are added bonuses. As evidenced by the experience of the frontrunner regions, the application of the entire complex of principal requirements is an excellent basis for the immediate implementation of "Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings". Therefore, the PassREg project suggests the direct adoption of the Passive House Standard as a way to considerably speed up the implementation process of NZEBs. The PassREg project perceives the Passive House Standard as an ideal benchmark for any further work on the establishment and implementation of the national NZEB definitions according the common EU framework set out by the EPBD. As mentioned before, the Passive House concept is very much in line with the EPBD’s call for optimal profitability. The concept also lends itself extremely well to the use of RES and further minimisation of CO2 emissions. Current status of the EPBD implementation In October 2014 the European Commission published a report (prepared by the German consultants Ecofys) for the implementation of the EPBD based on the information submitted by Member States on their national NZEBs definitions and process of approval. This Progress Report (working version) presents an overview of the differences in the implementation of the NZEB requirements between the member states. The overall conclusion is that a significant improvement in the implementation process throughout the continent is monitored, especially compared to previous reports from 2013 and 2012. However, as this statement is hardly surprising, the in-depth look shows serious gaps between the separate national approaches and limited basis for reliable comparisons. At the moment, the building requirements landscape in Europe is still quite diversified and other ways for standardization and unification of measurement and monitoring methodologies are explored .

Energy efficiency targets

Article 9 of the EPBD recast states that “Member States shall ensure that by 31 December 2020 all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings; and after 31 December 2018, new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are nearly zero-energy buildings”. Additionally, Member States shoud “draw up national plans for increasing the number of nearly zero-energy buildings” and “following the leading example of the public sector, develop policies and take measures such as the setting of targets in order to stimulate the transformation of buildings that are refurbished into nearly zero-energy buildings”. A NZEB is defined in Article 2 of the EPBD as “a building that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby”. Based on the official information available through EC information channels, the PassREg analysis shows that more than a half of the PassREg countries (AT (8 provinces), BE (Brussels and Flanders), HR, FR, LV, NL) have already implemented a national NZEB definition, as some of the frontrunners have utilized the regional approach promoted by the project. Some definitions are still under approval (BG, IT). There is no approved definition for Germany, where heated discussions on the best approach are still ongoing in the framework of a very ambitious climate policy until 2050. UK has officially decided to postpone the legal introduction of the NZEB definition; however its decision that all new residential buildings will be zero-carbon by 2016 and the public sector by 2019 to falls in line and even overpasses the requirements of the EPBD. Additionally, it must be stated that four of the PassREg countries (BE (Brussels and Flanders), FR, LV, NL) have provided a definition that indicates both a numerical target for primary energy use (or end energy/ useful energy demand) and the share of energy produced from RES in new buildings.

Renewable energy targets

Out of the few countries which have executed (or taken significant steps to execution) their obligations under Article 9(3c) of EPBD concerning the use of RES in new buildings and building renovations in the context of Article 13(4) of Directive 2009/28/EC (RES Directive), PassREg is represented in Belgium (Brussels Capital Region and Flanders), Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia and Netherlands. However, there is still much to be desired in terms of quantification of the targets. The specific measures are generally described in each country file below. It has to be noticed that out of the five member states which demonstrate ambition to go beyond the minimal NZEB requirements, four are represented in PassREg (zero energy buildings in the Netherlands, positive energy buildings in France, climate neutral new buildings in Germany and the zero carbon standard in the UK).