Columnists: Rémi Collombet, EuroACE

Published on: 22 Dec 2023

Deal on buildings! No time to lose in preparing the rollout

The political agreement found on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a positive signal for the efficient buildings industry in Europe. The next European Commission should focus on making this deal a reality and accelerate energy renovations in the EU.

2023: Increased energy efficiency objectives in Europe and beyond

Both the energy prices crisis and the pressing effects of climate change have recently increased the pressure on governments to accelerate the energy transition. This led to significant policy developments to improve buildings efficiency in Europe and beyond in 2023.

Throughout the year, industry leaders and NGOs repeatedly asked policymakers to adoptstructural measures to reduce the EU’s dependency on fossil fuels and durably shelter its citizens and businesses from energy price hikes.

Energy efficiency was put forward as one of the main solutions to address both issues, and several significant commitments were made in the past 6 months:

  • On the international stage, COP28 saw the adoption of a pledge to triple renewable energy capacity and double the pace of energy efficiency improvements this decade.

In the EU, the Fit for 55 package was completed with 2 important pieces of legislation regulating the performance of buildings:

  • The Energy Efficiency Directive raised the level of ambition, with an overall 11.7% energy consumption reduction target and various dispositions mandating the renovation of public buildings.
  • The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive was finally negotiated after months of tense debates.

EPBD deal: a tough compromise

After tough negotiations and despite an adverse political context, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive on 7 December. This deal is a delicate compromise and the final text suffered from the recent populist backlash against green legislation.

While the final wording lowers the overall ambition level compared to the Commission’s proposal, the text still contains some positive signals for the efficient buildings industry. It maintains a clear roadmap for owners and industry players in the non-residential sector through Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). Negotiators opted for a more flexible, so-called “trajectory” approach for the residential sector. More clarity and concrete requirements will be needed in the early implementation phase to drive finance into decarbonising the building sector.

The text also brings welcome provisions facilitating the energy renovation process – e.g. rollout of one-stop shops, clarity on deep renovations as well as improved access to quality information and finance to ensure affordable renovations.

This recast also looks at efficiency in buildings more holistically, with provisions to accelerate decarbonisation (solar mandate, fossil fuel phase-out), increase digitalisation, empower occupants with greater control over their energy consumption, address whole-life carbon, and improve indoor environmental quality.

From targets to results on the ground

Ambitious European targets are essential to provide an overall framework for the energy transition in Europe. Together with the Electricity Market Design and the Net Zero Industry Act, the new EPBD paves the way to make efficient buildings central energy system actors.

However, swift and complete implementation of adopted EU legislation is paramount to provide industry players with medium- and long-term market visibility. This means multi-year clarity on volumes and support mechanisms. Such commitments will encourage long-term investments, innovation, and assistance to companies to optimise training programs.

The efficient buildings industry is committed to supporting Member States throughout the implementation process and making energy renovations another European industrial success story.

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Rémi Collombet