Buildings account for almost 40% of the end use of energy in the EU. There is significant potential for reducing consumption with cost-effective measures. Energy saving solutions for buildings are almost unlimited and the level of cost-efficiency is constantly improving. To this day, zero energy or positive energy buildings have been introduced or demonstrated in almost all climatic zones. New buildings offer particular possibilities of low or no fossil energy use.
In the EU, the largest opportunities are found in the existing building stock. Existing buildings are a major source of energy use in Europe, and will remain to be in the following decades. Most buildings that will be standing in 2050 are already built. In many countries existing buildings use up to 5 to 10 times more energy than new constructions. Reduction of energy use in existing buildings is therefore a major challenge in all of Europe.
Reducing energy consumption and eliminating wastage are therefore among the main goals of the EU. EU support in improving energy efficiency will prove to be decisive for competitiveness, security of supply and for meeting the commitments on climate change made under the Kyoto protocol.
The EU has introduced legislation to ensure that both new and existing buildings consume less energy.
A key part of this legislation is the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). First published in 2002 (Directive 2002/91/EC), the EPBD required all EU countries to enhance their building regulations and to introduce energy performance certification of buildings. The 2010 revision (EPBD recast – Directive 2010/31/EC) sets a further focus on Near Zero-Energy Buildings, on cost-optimality and on improved policies for existing buildings.
The introduction of national laws meeting EU requirements was very challenging, as the legislation had many advanced aspects. It was a great opportunity to mobilise energy efficiency in EU buildings, but also a formidable and continuing challenge for many EU countries to transpose and implement the Directive and the recast from 2010.
To support EU countries in this task, the Concerted Action (CA) EPBD was launched by the EC to promote dialogue and exchange best practices between them. It builds upon the idea that countries can learn from the experience gained in other countries and that some solutions can be developed more efficiently in common discussion whilst sharing ideas. Some elements of the CA EPBD work therefore have to be undertaken with confidentiality.
With the CA EPBD IV project starting in 2015, the collaboration between partners from the 28 EU MS countries plus Norway continues and a new structure for collaboration has been set.