EPBD is a giant leap for the buildings of Europe

The buildings where we live, sleep, and work hold enormous potential in terms of saving energy. We can unlock these opportunities hidden behind concrete, glass and steel – to generate huge savings, create jobs and build better places to live. The revised EPBD is a significant step towards unlocking this potential.

We could save 67 billion Euros on energy bills for EU citizens annually in 2030, and initiate a reduction in emissions of 156 Mt. CO2, equivalent to that generated by 82 million cars – by optimising our technical building systems. As documented by an ECOFYS study initiated by Danfoss.

A giant step on the way will be taken on July 9, 2018, when the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) comes into force. It will accelerate the cost-effective renovation of existing buildings with the vision of creating a decarbonised building stock by 2050 and the mobilisation of investments. The revision also introduces new provisions to enhance smart technologies and technical building systems.

Member States will have to transpose the provisions of the EPBD into national law by 10 March 2020. That means 20 months for Europe’s governments to be ambitious and seize the opportunity to unlock the potential of the three pillars of energy efficiency in buildings, especially the optimization of technical building systems (next to the envelope and the heating or cooling supply).

Danfoss sees the EPBD as key to getting the basics right in our buildings and making them future-proof for the wider energy system thanks to digitalization.

Technical building systems include the systems for heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water. By optimizing the control of energy flows in these systems, energy consumption can be reduced by no less than 30% on average, and the benefits of digitalization can be fully utilized.

“Policy-makers have clearly strengthened the provisions targeting the technical building systems in the new EPBD. We welcome this step as it will not only save energy but will also bring more indoor comfort and improved air quality to millions of EU citizens,” says Lars Tveen, President of Danfoss Heating.

The only way to significantly improve building energy efficiency is to focus on existing buildings. Nine out of ten existing buildings in the EU will be occupied by 2050. Renovation of our building stock is more affordable than many currently believe. The investment cost for basic improvements to the control of energy flows inside buildings is low, and the payback time is two years to get the basics right.

“A priority for investors is also to reduce the energy performance gap in energy renovation, meaning the gap between calculated and actual energy consumption. The optimisation of technical building systems, especially at part-load, will reduce this gap, because it will secure that energy flows are controlled dynamically, whatever the outside temperature or internal usage,” says André Borouchaki, CTO, Danfoss Drives.

Facts on the EU building stock

Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. Currently, about 35% of the EU’s buildings are over 50 years old and over 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient, while only 0.4-1.2% (depending on the country) of the building stock is renovated each year. Therefore, more renovation of existing buildings has the potential to lead to significant energy savings.

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings can also generate other economic, social and environmental benefits. Better performing buildings provide higher levels of comfort and well-being for their occupants, and improve health by reducing illness caused by a poor indoor climate. It also has a major impact on the affordability of heating and cooling. Improvement in the energy performance of the housing stock and the energy savings it brings would enable many households to escape energy poverty.

Investments in energy efficiency also stimulate the economy, in particular the construction industry, which generates about 9% of Europe’s GDP and directly accounts for 18 million direct jobs.

Facts on the revised EPBD

  • EU countries will have to establish stronger long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonizing their national building stock by 2050 with solid milestones and key performance indicators
  • The optimization of technical building systems will be promoted, for instance by requirements on self-regulating devices for the control of room temperature or the mandatory assessment and documentation of the energy efficiency of technical buildings systems by installers
  • The energy performance gap will be targeted with the mandatory assessment of the energy efficiency of cooling and heating systems at part-load operating conditions in inspections
  • Smart technologies will be further promoted, for instance through requirements on the installation of building automation and control systems, or via a voluntary European scheme for rating the smart readiness of buildings
  • E-mobility will be supported by introducing minimum requirements on recharging points and ducting infrastructure
  • Health and well-being of building users will be promoted, for instance through an increased consideration of air quality and ventilation.