Energy efficiency: Council and Parliament reach agreement on EPBD revision

On 7 December, during the last trilogue negotiation of the year, the EU co-legislators reached a long-awaited agreement on the recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), under the leadership of the Spanish Presidency of the Council.

Since the beginning and throughout the EPBD recast process, EBC has advocated for an ambitious and realistic EPBD that takes on board construction SMEs and crafts. Without prejudice to the final version of the text, EBC welcomes the agreement by co-legislators on this massive piece of legislation for buildings and considers the overall result as a major step forward towards the needed energy efficient renovations for a decarbonised building stock in Europe.

According to initial information, each Member State will have the flexibility to consider national circumstances to adopt its own national trajectory to reduce the average primary energy use of residential buildings by 16% by 2030 and 20-22% by 2035. Member States are thus free to choose which buildings to target and which measures to take.

With regard to Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), discussed at length, national measures will have to ensure that at least 55% of the decrease of the average primary energy use is achieved through the renovation of the worst-performing buildings. This will lead to renovating the 16% worst-performing buildings by 2030 and the 26% worst-performing buildings by 2033. Member States will have the possibility to exempt certain categories of residential and non-residential buildings from these obligations, including historical buildings.

Among other measures, Member States will have to establish National Building Renovation Plans (NBRP) with a national strategy to decarbonise the building stock and address remaining barriers, such as financing, training, and attracting more skilled workers. Financing measures to incentivise and accompany renovations should be expected, targeting in particular vulnerable customers.

Additionally, the announced improvement of the Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) based on a common EU template with common criteria is welcomed to streamline the tool and improve its quality and precision. As requested by EBC, the establishment of One-Stop-Shops (OSS) is also enshrined in the EPBD, to accompany all actors in the renovation value chain with support and guidance.

When it comes to heating, the new EPBD confirms the phasing out of gas boilers. Indeed, subsidies for the installation of stand-alone boilers powered by fossil fuels will be forbidden as of 1 January 2025. The revised directive introduces a legal basis for Member States to set requirements for heat generators based on greenhouse gas emissions, the type of fuel used, or the minimum share of renewable energy used for heating. It will also set out specific measures on the phase-out of fossil fuels in heating and cooling with a view to a complete phase-out of boilers powered by fossil fuels by 2040, while allowing for financial incentives for hybrid heating systems.

Moreover, zero-emission buildings have been defined and are set to become the norm for new buildings. This includes a mainstreamed installation of solar energy installations, with an obligation for Member States to ensure that new buildings are solar-ready. All new residential and non-residential buildings must have zero on-site emissions from fossil fuels, as of 1 January 2028 for publicly owned buildings and as of 1 January 2030 for all other new buildings, with a possibility for specific exemptions. Plus, Member states will be able to consider the life-cycle global warming potential of the building, which includes the production and disposal of the construction products.

Additionally, boosted provisions on e-mobility have been considered, including on pre-cabling, recharging points for electric vehicles and bicycle parking spaces, for a push towards making sustainable mobility mainstream.

The provisional agreement is expected to be submitted to COREPER approval by the end of the month, while the vote in the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee has been set towards the end of January 2024.

EBC will closely monitor the conclusion of this long but highly strategic legislative file, as the EPBD recast is now soon passing on the Member States, to ensure a quality transposition that should offer a boost and regulatory certainty to the construction sector.

To read the full official press release of the European Commission, click here.

To read EBC’s latest article on EPBD revision negotiations, click here