Energy efficiency: Council opts for moderate ambition in general approach on the EPBD

Since the publication of the European Commission’s legislative proposal for a recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in December 2021, the legislative work has been ongoing in Parliament and Council. This revision has become even more important given the disrupted geopolitical context and energy landscape. During the last quarter of 2022, Council and Parliament are intensifying their activities with the aim to reach compromises that will feed into the upcoming trialogue negotiations.

In this vein, on Tuesday 25 October, EU Energy Ministers agreed in the Council their general approach on the proposal to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Some countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Ireland, were hoping for higher ambition, which they expressed in a statement, while Croatia chose to abstain citing important reservations.

More specifically, the Council retains as the main objectives of the revision that all new buildings should be zero-emission buildings by 2030, while existing buildings should be transformed into zero-emission buildings by 2050, as originally put forward by the Commission. As regards new buildings, the Council agreed that new buildings owned by public bodies would be zero-emission buildings as of 2028, with exceptions being possible for some buildings, including historical buildings.

Energy Ministers agreed to introduce minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for existing buildings, while choosing to differentiate between residential and non-residential buildings. For existing non-residential buildings in particular, Member states agreed to set maximum energy performance thresholds based on primary energy use: a first threshold would draw a line below the primary energy use of 15% of the worst-performing non-residential buildings; a second threshold would be set below 25%. Bringing all non-residential buildings below the 15% threshold by 2030 and below the 25% threshold by 2034 was also agreed. For existing residential buildings, Member states agreed to set MEPS based on a national trajectory in line with the progressive renovation of their building stock into a zero-emission building stock by 2050, with two control points to keep stock of Member states’ achievements. The average primary energy use of the whole residential building stock will need to at least be equivalent to the D energy performance class level by 2033.

Regarding Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), Member states agreed to add a new category “A0” to the EPCs that would correspond to zero-emission buildings and to allow the addition of a new “A+” category corresponding to buildings, which contribute on-site renewable energy to the energy grid in addition to being zero-emission buildings.

Ministers also agreed that all new buildings should be designed to optimize their solar energy generation potential, and agreed to deploy suitable solar energy installations: on all new public and non-residential buildings with useful floor area over 250 m2 by 31 December 2026; on all existing public and non-residential buildings, undergoing a major or a deep renovation, with useful floor area over 400 m2 by 31 December 2027; and on all new residential buildings by 31 December 2029.

The Czech Presidency of the Council has a demanding task, with positions diverging significantly. EBC had the opportunity during past weeks to raise the need for strong measures to secure a skilled workforce to deliver on the Directive’s and the Renovation Wave’s ambition to the attention of the Czech Permanent Representation in Brussels.

At the same time, the European Parliament has been intensifying its work on compromise amendments. The ENVI Committee adopted its Opinion on 10 October, while the TRAN Committee failed to come to an agreement last week, and therefore will not be able to present an Opinion. The lead ITRE Committee is intensifying its efforts to reach a compromise at the level of Shadow Rapporteurs, as the ITRE Rapporteur Ciarán Cuffe (Greens/Ireland) is expected to finalize his report early in November, with the vote in ITRE now postponed for 28 November. A plenary vote is currently set for 12 December, with a possibility for a potential additional delay until January 2023.

EBC continues to closely follow the developments of the discussions in both arenas, also providing concrete recommendations on the needs and priorities of construction SMEs towards EU co-legislators. Indeed, EBC requests more ambition regarding more targeted funding for energy renovation projects, more strategic and pragmatic provisions for the upskilling and reskilling of the construction workforce, as well as more ambition when it comes to establishing and supporting One-Stop-Shops.

To read the Council’s general approach on the EPBD, click here

To read EBC’s feedback on the EC proposal for the revision of the EPBD, click here