An international appetite for Energy Efficiency and Prosumer regulations

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As shown in Figure K1, Energy Efficiency in Buildings can be the result of:

  • Regulatory measures, with the evolution of regulations and directives (and of the related standards) which can be issued at national or international levels
  • or voluntary approach, with Green Building certification systems such as Leed, Breeam, etc … Promoters, building owners, occupiers etc may decide to have their building certified to help adopt sustainable solutions, and to obtain market recognition of their achievements.
Fig. K1 – Regulatory vs voluntary approach to Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Energy Efficiency regulations in Europe

Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Buildings are therefore the single largest energy consumer in Europe:

  • The building sector is crucial for achieving the EU's energy and environmental goals.
  • At the same time, better and more energy efficient buildings improve the quality of citizens' life while bringing additional benefits to the economy and the society.

To boost energy performance of buildings, the EU has established a legislative framework that includes the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

Together, the directives promote policies that will help:

  • achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050
  • create a stable environment for investment decisions
  • enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices to save energy and money

Both directives were amended, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, in 2018 and 2019, and will be amended in a near future to contribute to the 2020 EU’s decision to set-up a new 2030 Climate Target Plan: the Commission proposed to raise the EU's ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. This is a substantial increase compared to the existing target upwards from the previous target of at least 40%.

Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)

The 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive established a set of binding measures to help the EU reach its 20% energy efficiency target by 2020. Under the Directive, all EU countries were required to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain from its production to its final consumption.

In December 2018, the amended Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2018/2002 entered into force, updating some specific provisions from the previous directive and introducing several new elements. Above all, it establishes a headline EU energy efficiency target for 2030 of at least 32.5% (compared to projections of the expected energy use in 2030), with a clause for a possible upwards revision by 2023.

This amendment did not change the requirement for any company with more than 250 employees to either perform regularly an Energy Audit or to implement a permanently installed Energy Management System, as shown in Figure K2.

The directive requirements are minimum requirements and shall not prevent any member state from maintaining or introducing more stringent measures.

Fig. K2 – Consistency between European regulations (in blue) and standards (in grey)

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)

This directive came into force on 4 January 2006, and lays down Energy performance requirements such as:

  • All new buildings should be Near Zero energy by 31 Dec 2020
  • Energy performance certificates are to be included in all advertisements for the sale or rental of buildings
  • EU countries must establish inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems or put in place measures with equivalent effect
  • EU countries must set minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for the major renovation of buildings and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements (heating and cooling systems, roofs, walls, etc.).

The Directive amending the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2018/844/EU) introduces new elements and sends a strong political signal on the EU’s commitment to modernise the buildings sector in light of technological improvements and increase building renovations.

  • In particular, this amendment introduces requirements to ensure that, where technically and economically feasible, non-residential buildings with an effective rated output for heating systems or systems for combined space heating and ventilation of over 290 kW are equipped with Building Automation and Control Systems (BACS) by 2025, as shown in Figure K2.

EN 15232 standard applies for Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Automation & Control Systems (BACS).

Examples of green building certification systems

Many countries have issued green building certifications systems, some of them are listed as examples in Figure K3:

Fig. K3 – Examples of building certification systems
Green building certification Influence First version release year
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) USA 2009
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) UK 2008
NF HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) FRANCE 2009
CASBEE (Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency) JAPAN 2004
DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen) GERMANY 2009