The European Union could be set to define energy efficient buildings as “nearly energy zero” if the definition, proposed last week by the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee, is adopted into law.

The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who form the committee have issued a radical new draftfor the ongoing revision of the bloc’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), and then voted 51-1 in favour of it on 11 October.

The directive revision forms part of the European Commission’s Clean Energy Package.

Nearly zero-energy buildings
The new draft includes a much more robust set of proposals than the old one, asserting that “it is vital that the existing building stock” become “highly energy efficient and decarbonised up to nearly zero-energy standard by 2050”.

This definition of energy performance is credited to Danish centre-right lawmaker Bendt Bendtsen, who had brokered an amendment that defines decarbonised building stock as “building stock performing to Nearly Zero-Energy Building (nZEB) level”.

Currently, only one per cent of new construction is nZEB, despite the fact that the current Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by the end of 2020 and all new public buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2018.

Promoting investment in buildings
The draft amendments go on to say that European nations should “seek a cost-efficient equilibrium between decarbonising energy supplies and reducing final energy consumption” by giving investors “a clear vision to guide their policies and investment decisions”.

This would include “well-defined national milestones and actions for energy efficiency to achieve the short-term (2030), mid-term (2040) and long-term (2050) objectives”.

The annual renovation rates for Europe’s buildings need to improve dramatically from the current rates of 0.4 to 1.2 per cent, depending on the member state. Almost 50 per cent of the European Union’s final energy is used for heating and cooling, of which 80 per cent is used in buildings.

Bendtsen told the website, “Public money does not solve everything. Private investors need security and energy efficiency projects offer that.”

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