New proposal for the revision of the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD)

The lead negotiator for the EPBD, Ciarán Cuffe submitted a draft report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the EPBD on 6 June 2022 to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (“ITRE”). The revised EPBD aims to accelerate the energy renovation of worst-performing buildings while prioritising social safeguards and financial support for households at risk of energy poverty. The objective is to reduce Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and contribute to meeting the EU’s climate targets.

If adopted by the European Parliament, the proposed directive will raise standards of new and existing buildings by introducing minimum energy performance standards; expand the use of renewable energies, including through solar energy mandates; accelerate fossil-fuel phase-outs in buildings; and establish a framework to mobilise renovation financing for lower-income households.

As for the minimum energy performance standards, since in Europe buildings account for around 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions, while almost 75% of the EU’s building stock is energy inefficient, but only 0.4-1.2% is renovated yearly, the new draft proposes applying minimum energy performance standards first in the worst-performing buildings, while adding safeguards for households to protect them from burdensome debt. The draft report also proposes to increase financial assistance for vulnerable groups through targeted loans or grants and promotes renewable energy deployment in buildings by expanding EU support measures to heat pumps.

Furthermore, the proposal aims to reduce the climate footprint of buildings to net-zero emissions. The idea is to have buildings which can be self-sufficient, operate on renewables, or even produce excess energy for other uses. According to the explanatory memorandum of the draft report, it is essential that deep renovations become the standard form of renovation so that households can profit from more substantial energy savings and switch from fossil fuel-based heating and cooling to renewables based systems.

According to the above, Member States are encouraged to adopt a neighbourhood approach to renovations the idea of which is that the renovation could be more effective if the whole neighbourhood and not only single buildings are considered. Therefore, the draft report also urged the European Commission to introduce “integrated renovation programmes” at EU level to speed deep renovation of the existing build stock.