The changes are designed to tap into what is seen as a huge potential for efficiency gains in the building sector. They include measures designed to boost energy efficiency by accelerating the rate of renovations and strengthening the energy performance of new buildings.
Vice-president responsible for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "By renovating and making our buildings in Europe smarter, we are attaining several simultaneous objectives: lower energy bills, better health, protection of the environment and reduction of our emissions in the EU, given that over a third of these are produced by buildings. And as technology has blurred the distinction between sectors, we are also establishing a link between buildings and e-mobility infrastructure, and helping stabilize the electricity grid. Another building block of the Energy Union has been laid today, let us continue ahead.”
Measures in the new directive include:
- creation of a path towards a low and zero-emission building stock in the EU by 2050 underpinned by national roadmaps to ‘decarbonise’ buildings;
- encouragement for the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and smart technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently, for example by introducing automation and control systems;
- introduction of a ‘smart readiness indicator’, which will measure the buildings' capacity to use new technologies and electronic systems to adapt to the needs of the consumer, optimise its operation and interact with the grid;
- integration and strengthening long-term building renovation strategies;
- mobilisation of public and private financing and investment;
- help in combatting energy poverty and reducing the household energy bill by renovating older buildings.
The building sector in the EU is the largest single energy consumer in Europe, absorbing 40% of final energy, and about 75% of buildings are regarded as energy inefficient. Depending on the member state, only 0.4% to 1.2% of the stock is renovated each year, highlighting the potential for energy efficiency gains in Europe as well as economic opportunities: the construction industry generates about 9% of European GDP and accounts for 18 million direct jobs. The EU says that construction activities that include renovation work and energy retrofits add almost twice as much value as the construction of new buildings, and SMEs contribute more than 70% of the value added in the EU building sector.
Approval of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive signals the closure of the first of eight legislative proposals as part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package brought forward by in 2016.
Commissioner for climate action and energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "This is the first final agreement on a proposal of the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package, a signal that we are on the right track and we will deliver on our pledge made at the beginning of the mandate. Our ambitious commitment to clean energy in Europe and the Paris Agreement will be made a reality by laws like the one voted today: the revised buildings directive will help create local jobs, save consumers money and improve Europeans' quality of life. It will also help combat energy poverty by reducing the energy bills of older buildings which will be renovated.”
Following approval by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers will finalise its formal agreement in the coming weeks. This endorsement will be followed shortly by the publication of the text in the Official Journal of the Union, which will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member States will then have to transpose the new elements of the Directive into national law within 20 months.