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European Parliament advances energy efficiency measures for buildings

The European Parliament has greenlit plans, in alignment with the Council, aimed at reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions within the buildings sector.

The proposed revision of the Energy performance of buildings Directive sets forth ambitious objectives to progressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage in the EU building landscape, with the overarching goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The directive also prioritizes the renovation of underperforming buildings and the enhancement of information dissemination regarding energy efficiency.

Among its key provisions, the directive mandates stringent emissions reduction targets. By 2030, all new buildings must meet zero-emission standards, with public authority-owned structures required to comply by 2028. Member states are instructed to consider the entire life-cycle global warming potential of buildings, encompassing production and disposal of construction materials, in emission calculations.

For residential buildings, member states are tasked with implementing measures to achieve a minimum reduction of 16% in average primary energy consumption by 2030, scaling up to 20-22% by 2035. Additionally, the directive stipulates that member states must renovate the poorest-performing 16% of non-residential buildings by 2030, increasing to 26% by 2033, through adherence to minimum energy performance standards.

Aligned with the directive’s objectives, member states are urged to gradually integrate solar installations into public and non-residential buildings, contingent upon their size, and into all new residential constructions by 2030.

In addressing the imperative to transition away from fossil fuels, member states are required to outline strategies for decarbonizing heating systems, aiming to phase out fossil fuel usage in heating and cooling by 2040. Notably, subsidies for stand-alone fossil fuel boilers will be phased out by 2025, with financial incentives remaining viable for hybrid heating systems integrating renewable energy sources.

Certain exemptions are provided under the directive, including agricultural and heritage buildings, while member states retain the discretion to exclude structures of special architectural or historical significance, temporary buildings, and places of worship.

The directive, endorsed by 370 votes to 199, with 46 abstentions, now awaits formal ratification by the Council of Ministers to become law.

The proposal to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive was part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, introduced by the European Commission in December 2021, in accordance with the targets outlined in the European Climate Law of July 2021.