Since the beginning of 2021, all new buildings constructed in the EU must be nearly zero-energy buildings (nZEBs), according to Article 9 of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). However, there remains a wide degree of disparity in how nZEB standards are defined and implemented across the EU-27, often leading to a misalignment with EU climate targets. The revision of the EPBD is an opportunity to correct this.
Strengthened national nZEB standards and rigorous implementation are a key ingredient to achieving Europe’s wider climate goals for 2030 and 2050, as well as increased comfort and well-being for occupants and long-term security for investors.
However, as things stand, there is considerable disparity in definitions and metrics used to determine national nZEBs. In BPIE’s recent analysis of nZEB standards in the EU-27, we have identified a wide variation in Member States’ calculation methodologies, required levels of energy performance to achieve nZEB status, and the extent to which residual energy requirements need to be covered by renewable energy. Adding to this misalignment, seven Member States have nZEB standards for single family homes which are less demanding than the Commission’s recommended benchmark to limit energy waste, while only three Member States are exceeding the EU recommendations, as shown in figure 1 below.
And that’s not all. National requirements for renewable energy in new buildings are even more diverse, often leaving room for use of considerable amounts of fossil fuels in new buildings. Current nZEB standards were actually calculated a number of years before they became law for all buildings at the start of 2021. This means that they are not based on the latest cost data, which should today reflect significant reductions in costs of renewable energy.