On 22 February 2021, the EU Commission published a consultation on an inception impact assessment roadmap (IIA Roadmap) for revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU (EPBD). In this article, we take a look at the key features of the IIA Roadmap relevant to the construction and property sectors and those acquiring, funding or delivering refurbished or new housing and commercial buildings.
The EPBD seeks to improve the energy efficiency and performance of all buildings (whether commercial and residential) across the EU and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of the requirements of the EPBD, was for Member States to ensure that by 31 December 2020, all new buildings were nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB). The EPBD has been comprehensively amended by Directive 2018/844/EU, which set out further requirements for Member States in this area (2018 Directive).
The EU Commission has identified that 75% of the EU’s building stock is inefficient according to current building standards. Buildings are responsible for 40% of total energy consumption and 35% of energy related greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. In October 2020, the EU Commission presented its “Renovation Wave” strategy, outlining the objective to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of buildings by 2030 and foster deep renovations. As such, the EU requires revision of the EPBD and the 2018 Directive to achieve this goal, focusing on provisions for boosting building renovation.
Key Features of the IIA Roadmap
The IIA Roadmap will assess the following key areas:
- The phased introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for different types of buildings (public and private, residential and non-residential), which will be a central part of the EPBD revision. The IIA Roadmap will consider different options for the type, scope and lead-in time for implementing new standards, and the level of flexibility required for Member States assessed. The need for accompanying support policies to ensure affordability of housing will also be examined.
- Updating the framework for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), to increase their quality and availability. This will be done, for example, through greater harmonisation.
- Introducing building renovation passports and a “deep renovation” standard in the context of financing and building decarbonisation objectives. The EU Commission notes that across the EU, deep renovations that reduce energy consumption by at least 60% are carried out only in 0.2% of the building stock per year.
- Addressing resource efficiency and circularity to reduce whole lifecycle emissions.
- Consideration of digitalisation, climate resilience and health and environmental standards.
The consultation on the IIA Roadmap will close on 22 March 2021. The EU Commission plans to adopt a proposal for a revised Directive in Q4 2021.
As discussed previously (see here), Ireland transposed the EU requirements for NZEBs and major renovations set out in the EPBD through the Building Regulations (Part L Amendment) Regulations 2017 (Regulations). Under the Regulations, buildings (other than dwellings) need to be designed and constructed so as to ensure that the energy performance of the building is such as to limit the amount of energy required to operate it and reduce associated carbon dioxide emissions, in so far as practicable. This requirement applied from 1 January 2019, subject to transitional arrangements.
Ireland has also transposed the 2018 Directive through the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2019 and the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) (No. 2) Regulations 2019. These regulations prescribe high building energy performance standards for dwellings (equivalent to an A2 BER) and major renovations to dwellings (equivalent to a B2 BER) where construction commenced on or after 1 November 2019. The regulations also introduced a requirement to have 20% renewable energy as a percentage of the total building energy use. In addition, new requirements for air tightness performance under the EPBD and the 2018 Directive were transposed in the Building Regulations (Part F Amendment) Regulations 2019.
The reduction of carbon emissions is a societal challenge. The aim of the EPBD and the 2018 Directive is that improvements to buildings should achieve a cost optimal energy performance at building level insofar as is technically, functionally and economically feasible. The goal for a new Directive as outlined in the IIA Roadmap is to further push that aim. The potential benefits could include, reduced energy bills, alleviation of fuel poverty, health improvements and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. However, the economic challenges that the practical delivery of such benefits will present for the construction industry, homeowners, purchasers and funders in the property sector, and public and private sector bodies tasked with refurbishing or delivering housing and new commercial buildings, needs to be explored in greater detail.
For more information or advice on the projects and construction contracts requirements relating to the energy performance of buildings, please contact Cassandra Byrne, Jarleth Heneghan or your usual William Fry contact.