EPBD in Italy

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Legislative Decree n. 63 - 4th June 2013

The 2010/31/EU European Directive dated 19th May 2010 on energy performance in the building sector introduces the concept of “Nearly Zero Energy Buildings” in order to achieve certain efficiency objectives. Meanwhile, it left each Member State free to identify the essential steps for the implementation and diffusion of these NZEBs.

Italy, as any other EU Member State, had to absorb the Directive in its national law by 9th July 2012, setting up and applying minimal energy performance standards for new and existing buildings and instituting the certification of buildings’ energy performance. All of this to guarantee that by 2021 all new construction will consist of “Near Zero Energy Buildings”.

The adoption was achieved after a one year delay as an emergency measure because of a procedure for infringement against Italy: the 3rd August 2013, Law N. 90 was published in the 'Gazzetta Ufficiale', becoming effective the day after. It converted N.63 Legislative Decree of 4th June 2013 “providing urgent rules for the implementation of the 2010/31/UE Parliament and Council’s EU Directive dated 19th May 2010, on energy performance in the construction industry for the rebuttal to infringement procedures started by the European Commission (....)”. Subsequently, law N. 90 evolved into the 19th August 2005’s Administrative Order No. 192.

The European Decree provides for the establishment of national Action Plans by 30th June 2014, including the establishment of “Nearly Zero Energy Buildings” as a category, the identification of a primary energy consumption’s indicator (kWh/m2 per year) and an energy threshold for admission to join the NZEB category. Moreover, the plans should include policies and financial incentives expected to promote NZEB. In addition, starting from the 31st December 2018, new buildings that are owned or occupied by Public Administrations must be Near Zero Energy Buildings, and from the 1st January 2021, all new construction should fall into this category.

The European Decree also mentions duties regarding buildings’ energy certificates. This type of certificate will be required in the case of selling, leasing or the free transfer of a building, as well as when a new building is completed or a building has been subjected to an important renovation. This should enable citizens to consider and compare different buildings and to choose on the basis of standardised estimates of buildings’ energy performance, energy efficiency class, heating or cooling consumptions and on other useful information on its expected operation.

The European Decree also indicates that for NZEBs and other buildings the energy balance has to be calculated on a month by month basis and that this should be done separately for each energy carrier used. Thus, these calculations will reveal the balance between energy demand and on-site energy production from renewable energy sources for each month of the year and each type of energy carrier.

Although in Italy there is no single definition of “Near Zero Energy Building”, there are some energy efficient and passive buildings. To meet the requirements introduced by the Decree, it is essential for Public Administrations to define a strategy in order to achieve the stated objectives, and this should be defined soon given the stated deadlines.

Next steps

So far at the beginning of 2015, starting from the No.63 Legislative Decree of 4th June 2013, the Italian government is developing national regulation including detailed requirements and calculation method for new and renovated buildings according EPBD requirements and methodologies.


Looking back to Italian legislation on energy issues of the past, the 1991’s Law No.10 dealt with ways to carry out the National Energy Plan. It referred to the rational use of energy, energy conservation and the development of renewable energy sources. At the time it placed Italy in an advanced position compared to other countries, as the law called for a number of measures of energy conservation that had never been prescribed by any other national legislation before. These measures included the obligation for Regions and autonomous Provinces to develop Regional and Provincial Energy Plans regarding the use of energy from various sources. Moreover, Law No.10 stated a series of rules to restrain building’s energy consumption. This forced every public building to be designed and constructed so as to minimize the consumption of thermal and electric energy. In addition, it imposed on Public Administrations to apply energy from renewable or similar sources and to commence certification in order to demonstrate their properties’ meeting all these requirements.

Regarding buildings’ energy performance, the Italian 2005’s Legislative Decree 192/05 constituted the adoption of European Directive 2002/91/CE on building’s energy performance. The core of this Decree is the definition of criteria, conditions and procedures to improve buildings’ energy performance. Stated objectives were to enhance the development and integration of renewable energy and to support the national goal of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, as stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol. Another objective was the regulation of a method to estimate buildings’ energy performance during the design and certification phases and the stimulation of adherence to pertinent minimum requirements. In addition, the Italian decree regulates many essential aspects connected to the national energy policy and seeks the achievement of important goals such as reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

In particular, the European Directive 2002/91/CE of December 16, 2002, includes four main elements:

  • a common methodology to estimate buildings’ integral energy efficiency;
  • minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings and for existing buildings subjected to thorough renovation;
  • a certification system for new and existing buildings. In public buildings performance certificates and other relevant information should be exposed somewhere in the building. Certificates should not be older than five years;
  • the periodic inspection of boilers and centralized air conditioning systems and the evaluation of heating systems utilising boilers older than 15 years.

The President of the Republic’s Decree no. 59 of 2nd April 2009 enabled article 4, section 1 of 192/2005’s Executive Decree. The president called for one or more decrees by the Minister of Economic Affairs to define an approach to making estimates of energy performance and to set requirements for the use of renewable energy. Subsequently, the 28th December 2012’s Ministerial Decree appeared on the support of thermal energy production from renewable sources and appropriate interventions in the energy efficiency of buildings. It introduced an incentive program aimed at property owners excluded from other incentive systems, notably aimed at public administrations. The grant can go up to 40% of the costs incurred, depending on the intervention. Thus, this Decree introduces a subsidy that might be essential for public administrations that allegedly had to stop the realization of energy efficiency interventions in their own properties because of unbearable costs.

The main national document on energy policy, defining objectives and priorities, is the National Energy Strategy (SEN), approved by Ministerial Decree in March 2013. Stemming from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, it aims to reduce energy expenditures, to overcome energy dependence on foreign countries and to facilitate sustainable economic growth through the development of an alternative energy sector. Since 20 years had passed after the preceding National Energy Strategy, this planning document was intensely expected. As explained on the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ web-site (http://www.sviluppoeconomico.gov.it), actions are suggested in this energy strategy with two different deadlines – 2020 and 2050. No longer is energy represented as an constraining economic factor and a burden to Italian families. Instead the strategy attempts to establish a road map towards the enhancement of environmental standards and the strengthening of security of supply, thanks to considerable investments. Implementation of the strategy should permit a step-by-step but significant system evolution and facilitate meeting the “20-20-20” European goals, with the following results expected by 2020:

  • significant reduction of energy costs and progress towards wholesale prices commensurate with those at the European level;
  • exceeding all 2020’s European environmental goals: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2005 by 21% (EU goal: 18%), reduction of the primary consumptions of energy compared to initial performance by 24% (EU goal: 20%) and the application of renewable energy as a portion of total energy consumption of 19-20% (EU goal: 17%). Specifically, renewable energy is expected to become the main source of the electricity sector and to comprise 35-38% of the natural gas sector;
  • more security of energy delivery, bigger system’s flexibility and less dependency. Dependency from other countries is expected to decrease from 84% to 67% ;
  • positive impact on economic growth thanks to investments both in the green and white economic sectors (bio-fuels and physical forms of alternative energy) and both in renewables and in energy efficiency (sustainable sources and reduction of need) in cooperation with the traditional energy players (electricity and gas networks, storages, hydrocarbons development). The focus is on private investments, partially supported by government incentives motivated by their impact on the system’s competitiveness and sustainability.

The strategy to achieve those goals is articulated in seven different priorities, each with specific, new or on-going, policy measures. From these, the following measures concerns energy efficiency and near zero energy buildings:

  • promotion of Energy Efficiency, the ideal tool to pursue all the goals mentioned above;
  • a more competitive gas market, better integrated with that of the rest of Europe and with more similar prices;
  • sustainable development of renewable energies, where the target is to exceed European goals (’20-20-20’), containing at the same time the expenditures of implementation;
  • an electricity market better integrated with the European one, more effective, with competitive prices and with the step-by-step assimilation of renewable production;
  • Support for research and technological development activities, focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energies and the sustainable use of fossil fuels.

Among the interventions in order to achieve these goals, are: the enhancement of the ESCo model; the strengthening of legal controls and fines, the introduction of financial support for research and technological innovation, the raising of consumers’ awareness on energy efficiency issues, and the reinforcement of compensation mechanisms and specific guarantee funds.

Italy put the promotion of energy efficiency among its national energy policy’s priorities, associating it with the pursuit of energy supply security, with energy costs savings for enterprises and citizen and with the promotion of innovative and green technological chains as well as with the reduction of climate-changing emissions.