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EU Parliament Tightens Building Energy Efficiency Requirements: New Zero-Emission Standards for Buildings by 2030

REAL ESTATEEU Parliament Tightens Building Energy Efficiency Requirements: New Zero-Emission Standards for Buildings by 2030

This week, the European Parliament adopted amendments to the EU Directive EPBD, introducing new energy efficiency requirements for buildings in the EU. From 2030, new buildings are expected to be zero-emission, while existing ones are to be gradually modernised to this state by 2050. The new regulations present a number of challenges and obligations for member states, including the preparation of national strategies, financial support programs, and consultation, but they are also expected to bring many benefits – both environmental and economic. Especially, considering that today, construction plays a significant role in global greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the European Commission, approximately 85 percent of buildings across the EU were built before the year 2000, and three-quarters of these have poor energy characteristics. This is one of the factors contributing to buildings being the largest energy consumers in Europe – in 2021, 42 percent of all energy used in the EU was consumed by buildings, which also account for about one-third of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonising this sector is therefore crucial for achieving the EU’s energy and climate neutrality goals by 2050.

“The main aim of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is to accelerate the decarbonisation of this sector, which accounts for about 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and also to accelerate the renovation wave. In Poland, about 70 percent of buildings need rapid, comprehensive modernisation,” says Aleksandra Stępniak, Public Affairs Manager at VELUX Polska.

Amendments to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) are expected to contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the construction sector by at least 60 percent by 2030 (compared to 2015) and complete decarbonisation of construction resources by 2050. This is a border date, after which the EU’s construction sector is expected to become fully climate-neutral.

In practice, the new regulations assume that by 2030, all newly constructed buildings in the EU should be zero-emission, with existing buildings to be converted to emission-free status by 2050 at the latest. In the case of residential buildings, member states will have to introduce measures to reduce the average primary energy consumption by at least 16 percent by 2030 and at least 20-22 percent five years later. The amendment should also contribute to a higher number of renovations in very poorly performing buildings, also known as ‘energy vampires.’ The new rules also require EU member states to renovate 16 percent of non-residential buildings with poor energy performance by 2030 and 26 percent of such buildings by 2033.

The expert from VELUX Polska emphasises that the new regulations do not mean that residents or owners of single-family or multi-family houses will be forced to carry out modernisations on their own.

“On the contrary, it will be the member states that will have to prepare appropriate support programmes and modernisation plans for these buildings, to assist residents in carrying out this process,” says Aleksandra Stępniak.

There will be significant funds allocated for this purpose. Part of the money from the Cohesion Policy Funded managed by Brussels is intended for building renovations. There will also be a Social Climate Fund, primarily for consumers and vulnerable entities, of which Poland will be the main beneficiary.

This Tuesday, March 12, the European Parliament adopted the new regulations by a vote of 370 to 199, with 46 abstentions. Now the Council needs to approve them, after which, once announced in the Official Journal of the EU, they will become binding law, expected to happen in mid-April.

“For most of the provisions we have two years to transpose, however, some of them, such as the introduction of energy classes for buildings, which cause considerable emotion in Poland, can be expected sooner. The concept is ready, it is already in the work plan of the Ministry of Development and Technology and – after inter-ministerial and internal consultations – we expect wide public consultations within two months,” says Jan Ruszkowski.

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