European Union member states have agreed on stricter energy standards for buildings. The new rules will apply to both new and existing commercial and residential buildings. As outlined in the EU’s climate plans, the target is for all buildings to be energy neutral by 2050.
There are already energy labels for buildings, but they are mainly informative. What is new in the European Union’s plans is that, step by step, all buildings will be required to be increasingly sustainable.
The strictest standards will apply to newly constructed buildings. In relation to existing buildings, there will be a requirement that when the building is extensively renovated, its overall energy efficiency rating must be improved.
For newly constructed buildings, EU member states have agreed that from 2028 all new government buildings will be emission-free. From 2030, this standard will apply to all new buildings, including residential facilities.
Member states are avoiding the proposal of the European Commission
As for existing buildings, the rules are more complicated. European member states want the worst-performing 15 percent of commercial buildings to be rehabilitated by 2030 and no longer in the worst category. By 2034, even 25 percent of the least energy-efficient commercial buildings must be made sustainable.
By defending these percentages, European member states are moving away from the original idea proposed by the European Commission. The latter proposed linking energy standards to the existing energy label system.
The standard to be applied in this case is that commercial buildings should at least comply with the F label by 2027 and the E label by 2030. based on definitions that will be more or less consistent throughout the European Union.
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The problem is that the differences in building stock between member states are, if anything, greater than the cultural differences between different parts of Europe. As a result, working with uniform standards creates considerable difficulties. Partly for this reason, member states will prefer to continue to operate under national rules. This is a setback for those who favor as much adaptation as possible when it comes to setting climate and energy targets.
The text, agreed by member states, states that the aim is to “encourage renovation and phase out poorly performing buildings”. It remains unclear whether this actually means that any buildings that do not meet the standard are no longer in use.
A spokesperson for the European Union points out that the new rules need to be incorporated into national legislation by each member state, and that it is up to the member states themselves to meet the targets and implement the standards.
The apartment also comes under new rulesetc
The rules will be slightly different for existing homes compared to commercial properties. The requirements will be linked to national plans that each member state must draw up to ensure that all existing homes are emission-free by 2050.
However, two interim targets have been identified. Namely, in 2033, the average consumption of the entire housing stock of the member state must correspond to energy label D. A new measurement period will come in 2040, and this period should clarify separately for each member state whether it is climate neutral in 2050. target is reachable.
It is interesting that member states have changed the rules on which energy sources are allowed to power a zero-emission building. Now the text says it must be “carbon-free energy”. It was reportedly added under pressure from France, a nuclear power nation.
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Not a lot of time, but a lot of work to do
The new guidelines do not only apply to offices and residential buildings. For example, new requirements regarding parking spaces in enterprises are also applied. Offices with more than 20 parking spaces per person must focus on equipping 10% of their parking spaces for charging electric vehicles within five years. In addition, half of the parking spaces should be designed to be easily equipped with charging stations later.
Bicycles should also be improved to encourage sustainable transport. For example, 15% of the area surface of the parking garage of an office building should be reserved for bicycle storage.
For residential buildings, new residential buildings or buildings being renovated must provide space for a minimum of two bicycles per residential unit. In addition, if such residential complexes have more than three parking spaces, at least half of those spaces must be equipped with a charging station. The remaining parking spaces should be prepared for charging stations that can be easily installed in the future.
Solar panels will be mandatory
Finally, the package of proposals also includes new rules on the installation of solar panels. New buildings should be built in such a way that they can make optimal use of solar energy. From December 31, 2026, every new government building or private office building with an area of more than 250 square meters must actually be equipped with solar panels.
In two years, the installation of solar panels will also require major renovation of existing office buildings larger than 400 square meters. Then, from the end of 2029, solar panels will be mandatory for every new home.
The European Parliament is preparing to take the next step
The fact that the European member states reached an agreement today does not mean that everything has already been resolved. The European Parliament will announce its position on the new directive next month. After that, the member states and the Parliament must come to a mutual agreement.
This promises to be a difficult debate, especially regarding energy standards for buildings. The expectation is that, unlike member states, the European Parliament will want to continue with energy certificates. This directive will only come into force after member states and the European Parliament agree on a compromise. Negotiations will continue at least until the first half of next year.