EU Parliament backs update to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, paving the way for new version to become law
The EU is poised to seal the deal on the first part of legislation under its flagship Clean Energy for All Europeans package, after a vote in the EU Parliament yesterday approved updates to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
The Parliament approved amendments to the EPBD which the EU hopes will accelerate the rollout of energy efficient renovations, boost the energy efficiency of new buildings and help ensure infrastructure across the trading bloc is equipped for the low-carbon revolution.
For example, the updated EPBD will require Member States to set out a 2050 roadmap for decarbonising building stock, with interim targets for 2030. It also requires that new and major renovated buildings with more than 10 parking spaces install at least one EV charging station, with capacity for a further 20 per cent of spots to receive EV charging capability in the future.
The new package is also set to include a 'smartness indicator' to better assess how building energy consumption can be curbed while still meeting the demands of the occupants.
Supporters of the reforms maintain wider action on building energy efficiency is critical to ensuring the EU meets its greenhouse gas targets. Buildings account for around 40 per cent of EU emissions, and according to the European Parliament around three quarters of buildings are classified as inefficient.
"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," EU commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said. "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."
Before the updates become law, the Council of Ministers will need to rubber stamp the proposals. Then, once the directive has been formally published on the EU's rule book, Member States will have 20 months to transpose the updated Directive into national law.
But some campaigners argue the new EPBD does not go far enough in forcing action on energy efficiency. It leaves it up to Member States to set minimum energy performance requirements for buildings, for example, and acts in the round to encourage rather than mandate building renovations.
In a report published yesterday by the Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group, leading businesses argued EU Member States must go beyond voluntary measures and legislate to make sure mass renovation actually happens.
Currently EU Member States renovate building stock at a rate of 0.4 - 1.2 per cent of the stock per year, depending on the country. To keep global warming below two degrees, this figure needs to at least double for residential properties, according to the Corporate Leaders Group.
To do this, Member States should legislate to make renovation compulsory at key trigger points of a building's life, such as a sale or new tenancy of a building, as well as implement minimum energy performances standards.
This would ensure that the energy efficiency of buildings continued to improve at an increasing scale and pace, and would provide clear points that building renovation support programmes could target, the report argues, as well as providing a clear, long-term platform on which businesses can base their investments.
"The EU guidelines provide a framework, but for Europe to realise the significant benefits of increased energy efficiency, including job creation, lower energy bills, and reduced emissions, member states must step up their action," said Corporate Leaders Group acting director Eliot Whittington. "Voluntary measures are not working and we won't get the benefits on the scale needed unless governments make more energy efficiency measures compulsory."
This is only the second update of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive since it was adopted in 2002. But while the reforms approved by Parliament are a step towards bringing the EU up to scratch on energy efficiency, they may well need to be complemented by aggressive action from Member States if the EU really is to deliver a decarbonised building stock by 2050.
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