Consultation on Evaluation of the EPBD

Consultation on Evaluation of the EPBD

A. Overall Assessment

1.  How successful has the EPBD been in achieving its goals?

The EPBD has created a good framework for the improvement of energy performance of buildings and has helped grasp energy savings when new buildings or major renovations take place. In particular, the EPBD has been successful in setting a vision for new buildings (NZEBs). It has also helped improved national and local buildings codes when it comes to minimum performance levels for buildings undergoing major renovations and for building components. Finally, it delivered when it comes to generalizing Energy Performance Certificates.

That being said, some pragmatic improvements of the existing EPBD are needed for the framework to fully tap into the energy efficiency potential in the building sector. At the same time, more focus is needed on good implementation and enforcement.

2. Has it helped to improve energy efficiency in buildings?

Thanks to improvements and stricter minimum performance requirements in national / local building codes, the EPBD certainly contributed to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, be it new or after renovation, if it was to be compared with a scenario without a recast EPBD. When analyzing the case of window products for example, it was observed in some countries that stricter minimum performance requirements were established after the national implementation of the EPBD. However, not all countries established minimum performance requirements for building components such as windows while in other countries, these requirements remain set at very low levels. Improving the EPBD and its implementation by way of much clearer guidance are therefore key for the future.

3. Has it helped to increase renovation (more than 25% of the surface of the building envelope) rates?

No but the EPBD cannot be blamed for not fostering a higher renovation rate. The EPBD contains only very limited instruments to ensure that more renovations take place. Today’s low level of activity in No but the EPBD cannot be blamed for not fostering a higher renovation rate. The EPBD contains only very limited instruments to ensure that more renovations take place. Today’s low level of activity in construction is mostly attributable to wider macro-economic considerations and not to the EPBD itself. That being said, one should consider whether or not the various instruments in the EPBD, the EED or other pieces of legislations need to be revisited, made more coherent and self-reinforcing, and whether or not they need strengthening.

4. In your view, has the EPBD sufficiently contributed to accelerating investment in improving the energy performance of the EU’s building stock? Why/Why not?

No but as explained above, Glass for Europe does not believe that the EPBD was ever conceived to accelerate investments. If this was the intention, the directive lacked proper instrument. The EPBD should therefore not be judged on the ground of an objective which it was never equipped to deliver.

5. Overall, do you think that the EPBD is contributing to cost-effective improvements in energy performance? Why/Why not?

Provisions prescribing that minimum performance levels for renovation or building components must be set based on cost-optimal calculations, when adequately implemented, ensure cost-effective improvements in energy performance. For cost-effective improvements to take place, provisions on ‘cost-optimality’ need to be adequately and more uniformly implemented than is the case today.

In terms of pragmatic improvements, it would be advisable to develop more harmonized guidance on cost-optimal calculation to ensure greater convergence in parameters used, more transparency on input data (e.g. costs), the accounting of societal benefits of increased energy performance, the need to input energy consumption generated by lighting for calculations on residential buildings, etc. Without greater convergence, the EPBD fails to deliver cost-efficiency across all Member States since all these parameters which are left at the discretion of Member States can have a great influence on the outcome of cost-optimality calculations.

Improved cost-efficiency requires more focus on good implementation and enforcement of the EPBD by Member States and local authorities. As explained on question 2, it is evident when looking at the case of windows that not all Member States abide by the requirement to establish minimum performance requirements for components with a significant impact on energy performance when they are being replaced or retrofitted, as enshrined in article 6 of the EPBD.

6. Do you think that the aim of ensuring the same level of ambition across the EU in setting minimum energy performance requirements within the EPBD has been met? Why/Why not?

This objective may have been met for new constructions and the requirement that they achieve NZEB standards. Nevertheless, this is less evident for major renovations and performance requirements derived from the cost-optimal calculations. As explained above, the current methodology leaves too many parameters and input data at the discretion of Member States to the extent that outcome of calculations vary greatly due to different approaches rather than due to differences in local realities. This ultimately means very different levels of ambitions. More harmonized guidance on calculation methods and input is needed. Additionally, one needs to consider that cost-optimality calculations are only meant to define minimum energy performance criteria.

Ultimately, a revised EPBD needs to steer ambitions beyond those minimum performance requirements to evolve towards a truly nZEB building stock by 2050.

7. Has the EPBD effectively addressed the challenges of existing buildings’ energy performance?

See response to question 2.

8. Has the EPBD set effective energy performance standards for new buildings?

By way of introducing the requirement on new buildings to achieve NZEB levels, the EPBD has effectively set standards for new buildings. This has nevertheless led to different performance levels across the Member States for NZEBs due to relatively loose guidance given to Member States.

In order to evolve towards a single standard, the definition of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs) could be improved by way of setting dual performance levels: first on Final Energy Demand (alternatively heating and cooling demand) and in addition in primary energy demand. This will avoid locking energy demand savings due to artificial trade-offs between efficiency of the building envelope and renewables. This will also pave the way for an evolution towards ‘Energy Positive’ buildings where all technologies deliver their fullest contribution to the EC energy and climate objectives.

11. What has worked well in the EPBD? What needs to be improved?

The EPBD has been particularly successful at:

1 – triggering national / local debates on the contribution of buildings to an energy-efficient economy
2 – forcing Member States to establish or review national or local building codes
3 – defining a more ambitious energy performance requirement for new buildings
4 – generalizing EPCs

The following improvements are nevertheless needed:

1 – The EPBD must be the occasion for revisiting all instruments to support a higher rate of energy-efficient renovation of buildings and thus ensure they are made more coherent and self-reinforcing.

2 – The EPBD must seek complementarities in ways to achieve greater energy performance of buildings rather than seeking trade-offs between efficiency of the envelope, renewables and heating and cooling technologies. This requires for example adding a final energy demand criteria for implementing NZEBs.

3 – The EPBD must raise levels of ambitions to achieve a nZEB level for the entire building stock by 2050 and to support technology deployment, innovations and know-how in construction. This can be achieved: – In new buildings by a requirement for new buildings to become ‘energy positive’ by 2028 / 2030. – In major renovation and component replacement requirements, by asking Member States to provide timelines for the gradual increase in minimum performance requirements. This is meant to ensure that cost-optimality drives evolution towards NZEB standards. Mechanisms to go beyond minimum performance requirements must also be designed.

5 – The EPBD must invite Member States to properly assess the performance of glazed areas in buildings: – By asking Member States to evaluate glazed areas on the basis of an ‘energy balance’ equation taking into account both heat losses and heat gains. The latter is a specificity of transparent glazed areas, which too many Member States do not take into account so far. – By emphasizing the importance of natural light in reducing energy consumption for artificial lighting and inviting Member States to consider, first, to delete existing maximum limits to glazed areas in buildings and, second, to set minimum requirements on glazed areas to floor ratio in national and local building codes.

6 – The EPBD must seek all ways to make renovations easier from the consumer standpoint. In particular, EPCs should be strengthened and transformed into a building passport including technically grounded recommendations for gradual energy efficiency improvements.

12. Is the EPBD helping to contribute to the goals of EU climate and energy policy (Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%; increasing the share of renewable energy to at least 27%; increasing energy efficiency by at least 27%; reform of the EU emission trading system)?

As stated in the EC introduction: ‘Buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, and consume, on average, about 25 litres of heating oil per square metre per year.’ It is therefore essential to improve the energy efficiency of the building stock to deliver energy savings and reduced GHG emissions to levels compatible with the EC objectives for 2030 and 2050. The current EPBD already helps to achieve this and a strengthened and improved directive will help this sector contribute even more to these essential objectives. This is in fact essential since EU 2050 objectives can only be met with a nZEB building stock.

14. Are the objectives of the EPBD delivered efficiently?

Glass for Europe considers that the EPBD’s objectives are delivered efficiently, particularly when it comes to inviting Member States to review and updates their building codes. Although some Member States may lack behind in terms of implementation, an EU directive remains the most efficient and flexible instrument to trigger regulatory reviews in Member States.

As explained above, for the directive to fully tap into the energy efficiency potential in the building sector, not only reinforced implementation is needed but also some pragmatic improvements (see question 11) and the development of more and better instruments to support a higher energy-efficient renovation rate.

15. Has the EPBD created any unnecessary administrative burdens? If so, please provide examples

Should administrative burdens have derived from the EPBD, it cannot be  considered unnecessary in light of what the EPBD has already delivered and the vast untapped potential for the building sector to contribute to greater energy efficiency and a decarbonized competitive economy. At the same time, when simplification can be achieved without adverse effects, it should be pursued.

16. Has the EPBD created any unnecessary regulatory burdens? If so, please provide examples

Should regulatory burdens have derived from the EPBD, it cannot be considered unnecessary in light of what the EPBD has already delivered and the vast untapped potential for the building sector to contribute to greater energy efficiency and a decarbonized competitive economy. At the same time, when simplification can be achieved without adverse effects, it should be pursued.

 

B. Facilitating enforcement and compliance

17. Is compliance with the provisions of the EPBD adequate?

No: more focus is needed on good implementation and enforcement as explained in section A.

When analyzing the case of window products for example, it was observed in some countries that stricter minimum performance requirements were established after the national implementation of the EPBD. However, not all countries established minimum performance requirements for building components such as windows while in other countries, these requirements remain set at very low levels. Improving compliance with the EPBD and its implementation are therefore key for the future. This requires more harmonized guidance on cost-optimal calculation to ensure greater convergence in parameters used, more transparency on input data (e.g. costs), the accounting of societal benefits of increased energy performance, the need to input energy consumption generated by lighting for calculations on residential buildings, etc. Without greater convergence, the EPBD fails to deliver cost-efficiency since all these parameters which are left at the discretion of Member States can have a great influence on the outcome of cost-optimality calculations.

18. Is the definition of NZEBs in the EPBD sufficiently clear?

The NZEB definition should be made more precise and specific in order to set a more consistent standard for new buildings. Implementation of the current directive has led to different performance levels across the Member States for NZEBs. Although guidance provided by the EC on NZEB is more robust than for cost-optimality calculations, it still leaves much room for interpretation and different methodological choices which lead to discrepancies and very different levels across the Member States. In order to evolve towards a single standard, the definition of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs) could be improved by way of setting dual performance levels: first on Final Energy Demand and in addition in primary energy demand. This will avoid locking energy demand savings due to artificial and politically-created trade-offs between efficiency of the building envelope and renewables. This will also pave the way for an evolution towards ‘Energy Positive’ buildings where all technologies deliver their fullest contribution to the EC energy and climate objectives.

A revisited EPBD must also raise levels of ambitions to achieve the EC energy objectives and to support technology deployment, innovations and know-how in construction. In new buildings, this can be achieved by a requirement for new buildings to become ‘energy positive’ by 2028 / 2030.

19. Is the NZEB target in the EPBD sufficiently clear to be met?

If one leaves aside the above considerations on the different levels induced by the NZEB definition, the target can be considered very clear, time-wise.

20. If not, what, in your view, are the missing factors that would ensure compliance with:

a. Minimum energy performance requirements in new buildings?

Regarding nZEBs, there should be a greater convergence in levels of performance, in national quality control requirements, as well as in national definitions with the introduction of some benchmark values in order to facilitate cross-national comparability. The Energy Efficiency First principle shall be applied in defining NZEBs, which in essence should be buildings with the lowest final energy demand levels. This could be achieved by setting dual performance levels: first on Final Energy Demand and in addition in primary energy demand. Better bridges between the nZEB standard and EPCs levels as well as access to financing should be made.

b. Minimum energy performance in major renovations of existing buildings?

Pragmatic improvements are needed to reach better compliance with the cost-optimality approach developed for major renovations. It would be advisable to develop more harmonized guidance on cost-optimal calculation to ensure greater convergence in parameters used, more transparency on input data (e.g. costs), the accounting of societal benefits of increased energy performance, the need to input energy consumption generated by lighting for calculations on residential buildings, etc.

c. Minimum energy performance for the replacing/retrofitting parts of the building envelope (roof, wall, window, etc.) and replacing/upgrading/installing technical building systems (heating, hot water, cooling, etc.)?

Above comments in section b are equally applicable for the replacing/retrofitting of components, which is also based on cost-optimality calculations.

Specifically on windows, the directive could be greatly improved by two means:

  1. Be unequivocally clear that minimum energy performance for the replacing / retrofitting of windows is needed across all Member States.
  2. By asking Member States to evaluate glazed areas on the basis of an ‘energy balance’ equation taking into account both heat losses and heat gains. The latter is a specificity of transparent glazed areas, which too many Member States do not take into account so far.
  3. By defining more detailed and harmonized input data and calculation method for determining cost-optimal points and minimum performance requirements.

e. Certification of the energy performance of buildings, including tailor-made recommendations for the improvement of the energy performance of buildings?

This can be achieved by way of reinforced EPCs, gradually evolving towards a building passport comprising technically grounded recommendations for energy efficiency upgrades. The quality of recommendations should however be improved. From the glass industry’s experience, quality of information provided on windows is usually very poor. Too often assessment is limited to the number of panes (single vs. double vs. triple glazing) without consideration for the energy balance of the glazed area or for the performance of the frame materials. To change this situation, many initiatives from industry and Member States will be needed for EPCs and building passports to become very efficient tools.

21. Do you think the cost-optimum methodology gives sufficient evidence regarding the actual cost of renovating buildings on top of the additional cost for Near Zero-Energy Buildings?

No: cost-optimum calculations from Member States are affected by too many ‘uncontrolled’ input parameters and methodological choices to deliver robust results. Anyhow, both methodological choices and outcome of calculations are not very transparent. It would be advisable to develop more harmonized guidance on cost-optimal calculation to ensure greater convergence in parameters used, more transparency on input data (e.g. costs), the accounting of societal benefits of increased energy performance, the need to input energy consumption generated by lighting for calculations on residential buildings, etc.

24. What measures are missing that could simplify the implementation of building regulations to make sure that buildings meet the required high energy performance levels?

As for the definition of NZEB, cost-optimal calculations should be done in a dual way to produce building code requirements both in terms of final and primary energy demand. Both indicators, and most particularly the final energy demand one, are easy to manage by construction professionals. This would not only help compliance but would also help ensure that the level of ambition remains robust so as to efficiently upgrade the energy performance of buildings.

 

C. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and stimulating energy efficient renovation of the building stock

26. Are the long-term national renovation strategies adopted sufficient to stimulate the renovation of national building stock? What examples of best practice could be promoted across the EU and how?

In light of the low levels of renovation in the EU, one can come to the conclusion that the national renovation strategies have not delivered their fullest potential. As such, this does not mean that the instrument is of little added-value. Instead, it should be reinforced and be made more credible and robust. For instance, building stock data, proper planning of new measures, the horizon for evolution of building codes, etc. should be made mandatory information in the renovation strategies. Most importantly, these strategies should be regularly revisited and assessed to check whether or not announced measures were effectively put in place and whether or not progress is made.

27. Have EPCs played a role in increasing the rate of renovation, the extent of renovation, or both? For instance, are EPC recommendations being defined as the most effective packages of measures to move the performance of buildings and/or their envelopes to higher energy classes?

The EPBD should be a key instrument for the transformation of the existing building stock towards a NZEB level building stock by 2050. In this regard, EPCs should play a key role by informing tenants, owners and potential investors on how to improve the energy performance of buildings and by triggering financial investments needed for measures such as single component replacement and staged- deep renovation. However, to be really successful, EPCs require implementation, convergence and compliance. Therefore, to speed up renovation rates, EPCs must be reinforced, their quality must be ensured and they should provide robust recommendations and information.

28.  Is setting a minimum renovation target for Member States to undertake (e.g. each year; percentage of building stock) important and requires further attention in the context of meeting the goals of the EPBD?

Such targets serving to express a collective aspiration would be most useful to send a signal to the industry and the wider Society. Glass for Europe nevertheless believes that such targets could not become mandatory, except for buildings owned and occupied by public authorities. In the latter case, targets need to be mandatory and made meaningful.

29. Are obligations or binding targets for renovation or any other mandatory measure (e.g. mandatory minimum thermal efficiency standards for rental properties) missing from the EPBD to ensure that the directive meets its goals? If, yes, what kind of obligations and targets?

In the case of buildings owned and occupied by public authorities, targets need to remain mandatory. The target definition nevertheless needs to be broadened compared to the existing EED target, so as to be made meaningful and to impact a pool of buildings sufficiently large to activate markets.

It would be appropriate to investigate whether or not a mandatory minimum thermal efficiency standard could be introduced for rental properties. This would need to be linked to EPCs, requiring their quality to be improved. Member States could be asked to provide a timeline for the introduction of such requirements in a gradual way to take account of the building stock and property market realities.

31. Do you think that the ‘staged deep renovation’ concept is clear enough in the EPBD?

Yes.

32. Have EPCs raised awareness among building owners and tenants of cost-efficient ways of improving the energy performance of the buildings and, as a consequence, help to increase renovation rates across the EU?

EPCs have served to raised awareness of building owners on measures that can be taken to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Whether or not this has helped put in evidence the cost-efficient measures is questionable due to the lack of transparency about cost-optimum calculations (see section B). Additionally, one should not suggest that there is an automatic casual link between awareness of cost-optimum measures and increase in renovation rates.

 

D. Financing energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings and creation of markets

34. What are the main reasons for the insufficient take-up of the financing available for energy efficiency in buildings?

There are many barriers causing an insufficient take-up of available financing for energy efficiency in buildings, such as:

  • inappropriate Eurostat rules on public debt and deficit for energy efficiency investments;
  • a lack of aggregators to increase the size of projects; and
  • a lack of aggregated data and regulatory stability to boost the investors’ confidence.
  • the “split incentive” dilemma between landlord and tenant

35. What non-financing barriers are there that hinder investments, and how can they be overcome?

Among the non-financing barriers, one is of particular relevant to the window and glass industry: i.e. the lack of robust and yet simple information to consumers about the energy efficiency properties of the different window and glass products in the market. This too often misleads consumers who opt for cheaper products, simply because they are not explained that these are less performing than other solutions. The development of EU energy labels for energy-related building components when relevant, such as windows, should be pursued to overcome this non-financing barrier.

36. What are the best financing tools the EU could offer to help citizens and Member States facilitate deep renovations?

Two recent reports respectively from EEFIG and the JRC include a good analysis of barriers and provide useful recommendations on how to overcome them. All in all, financing tools for energy efficient buildings need to be easily accessible, cheap, and available on the long term and this requires a stable long term policy framework regarding energy efficiency in buildings.

37. What role do current national subsidies for fossil fuels have in supporting energy efficient buildings?

National subsidies for fossil fuels shall be phased out, as subsidies distort market price setting.

 

E. Energy poverty and affordability of housing

43. Should have further measures tackling energy poverty been included in the EPBD?

It is Glass for Europe’s understanding that the EPBD does not include measures directly addressing energy poverty. However, it could be envisaged:

  • To focus renovation programmes on low income households;
  • Specific funds should be allocated for this purpose. When public money subsidising the consumption of fossil fuel by lower income people exist, it should be proposed to redirect these funds towards the refurbishment of the housing
  • Public social housing should enter within the scope of a mandatory target for renovation of publicly owned or occupied buildings.

44. Has tackling energy poverty been a requirements when constructing new buildings and renovating existing buildings in Member States?

The cost of ensuring indoor comfort is an important element of household expenditure and in some cases can be significant, especially for low income households. Although the EPBD does not directly address the issue of energy poverty, building renovations and the implementation of EE measures prioritised towards low income households are the only sustainable and structural solutions to this problem.

 

F. Ensuring new highly efficient buildings using a higher share of renewable energy

47. On the basis of existing experience, are provisions on targets or specific requirements for new buildings, beyond the current NZEB targets, missing in the EPBD which could help achieve the energy efficiency 2030 target? If so, in what types of targets or requirements?

Yes, a revisited EPBD must raise levels of ambitions to achieve the EC energy objectives and to support technology deployment, innovations and know-how in construction. This can be achieved in new buildings by introducing a requirement for new buildings to become ‘energy positive’ by 2028 / 2030. This is not only feasible today but costs of such construction will decrease over time. Additionally, ‘Energy Positive’ buildings will ensure that all technologies deliver their fullest contribution to the EC energy and climate objectives in terms of efficiency, decarbonization and renewable energy.

51. Does the EPBD address the issue of embedded energy? If so, in what way?

To Glass for Europe, the issue of embedded energy is not addressed within the EPBD. This issue of the wider environmental performance of buildings throughout the life-cycle is already being investigated in other fora such as initiatives of DG Grow and DG Environment as well as standardization work on going within CEN.

 

J. Buildings systems requirements

73. Based on existing experience, do you think in the EPBD minimum requirements for technical buildings systems focussing on other factors than heating, air condition, large ventilation systems and domestic hot water e.g. certain building categories, building size, etc., is missing?

No. A recent eco-design preparatory study on windows demonstrated the pitfalls and limits of a ‘building system’ approach in the case of windows. When individual products comprising the system have different if not opposite functions, e.g. the glazing part of the window meant to provide daylight and a view to the outside when a shading or shutter system is meant to provide darkness and non-transparent cavity, analyzing the performance of the system requires a knowledge of consumer interaction with the different devices of the system to a level that is almost impossible to predict. This in turn means that a system approach is / would lead to sub-optimal choices of products being made based on artificial scenario of use. In turn, it would lead to energy savings being locked in while creating discomfort for building occupants. Based on this experience, Glass for Europe believes that the system approach must be used with great caution and is certainly not applicable to windows and glazed areas.

 

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