The impact of EPBD on the building sector
The EPBD impact on the building sector is generating through and will keep generating interesting changes. Especially if we think about the constantly evolving legislative framework around energy efficiency and carbon emissions.
The legislative framework
The EPBD Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2010/31/EU) is part of a legislative framework including the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU). It aims to boost the energy performance of the European building sector, as it is the single largest energy consumer. In fact, buildings in Europe generate almost 40% of the energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions.
Both the directives changed, respectively in in 2018 and 2019, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package. The latter applies to the UK despite Brexsit.
These directives aim at helping Europe achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050. But also create a stable environment for investment decisions, allowing consumers and businesses to make better decisions to save energy and money.
Rusults are positive so far. In fact, since the directives’ introduction in national building codes, new buildings now consume only half of what buildings from the 1980s usually consume (*).
New elements introduced in 2018
The EPBD Directive (2018/844/EU) covers a wide range of aspects to help EU governments boost their buildings energy performance. These are the main aspects covered:
- As a result of the last amendment, EU countries must establish stronger long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050. That requires the introduction of milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050. This means that national implementations of the EPBD will have to be regularly updated.
- All the new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) from 31 December 2020. Since 31 December 2018, all new public buildings already need to be NZEB.
- Energy performance certificates must be issued when a building is sold or rented, and inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems must be established. APE in Italy, Réglementation Thermique in France, CEE in Spain and Energieausweis in Germany, are all examples.
- EU countries must set cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings, for the major renovations, and for the replacement or retrofit of building elements such as HVAC.
With the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU), EU countries must make energy efficient renovations to at least 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned/occupied by central governments. National governments are also recommended to only purchase buildings which are highly energy efficient.
The impact of EPBD
All these changes are meant to bring benefits to consumers, the environment and from an economic perspective as well. They are also having an impact on real estate and the HVAC sector, though.
As per the directives above mentioned, the building sector will have to decrease its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 and will have to be carbon neutral by 2050(**). Then the building sector will have to keep up with these requirements acting on the main consumption sources. In this sense, being space cooling, space heating and water heating usually main consumption sources in most buildings, it is important to reduce the impact of these needs on overall buildings energy consumptions.
HVAC solutions to comply with the regulation
In other words, a highly efficient HVAC systems meeting both the cooling and the heating demands of big spaces is what is really needed to make a whole building energy efficient and compliant with the directives.
The right energy performance of a building doesn’t necessarily implies less comfort. In fact, performance closely relates better living conditions for tenants. It allows tennants to benefit from the wellbeing that comes from living in a space that has a minimized impact on the environment. And then, there is also an aspect related to lower energy bills, which tenants can benefit from.
With all that comes higher profitability for owners. Buildings complying with EPBD, in fact, usually achieve premium prices(***). That is why it is important to be ahead of the regulation when building from scratch, or retrofitting the HVAC system to keep an existing building attractive to the market.
Also, building new considering EPBD most of the times gives constructors access to financial incentives, which is important when investing in a building. Low interest-loans for buildings’ with environmental impact are an example, but, depending on the country, there are also national funds. Fondo Nazionale Efficienza Energetica FNEE for Italy, for instance, which supports the construction or the renovation of buildings complying with EPBD norms.
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