In December 2017 the EU Council, Parliament and Commission agreed the contents of the revision of the Energy Performance Buildings Directive (EPBD 2010). The changes were published in January 2019. They still need the formal approval by the EP which is scheduled for April 2018, then the final directive will be published in the Official Gazette. The transposition period for Member States is 20 months, which is very short period and will keep the energy legislators busy in all member stated in the near future and beyond.
In my previous blog in spring 2017 I described the background and principles presented in the first draft of the directive proposed by the Commission. The negotiations between the Parliament, Council and Commission took the whole year 2017. The final agreement was achieved during the last days of the presidency of Estonia, most likely the agreement would have delayed more if transferred to the Bulgarian presidency in 2018. The interpretation of the document is a little difficult as the published document presents only the changes, which are no yet integrated with the EPBD 2010.
The problems/disagreements in the negotiation were the same as usually. Even though the proposal followed the consensus on the EU energy policy and agreed targets for reduction greenhouse gas the Member States objected the points/articles which would have needed investment efforts and which they did not considered cost effective.
Background to the revision of the EPBD 2010 is that the Commission realised that the goals set for reduction of primary energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for the year 2020 and 2030 may not be met. The implementation of nearly zero energy buildings has been slower than expected in the Member States and the targets set by Member States have not been very ambitious. More legislative actions are needed.
The major impact of the revised directive on energy use are the requirements dealing with the existing building stock. The objective is to renovate Europe’s entire building stock by 2050 so that it becomes “nearly zero emissions”. The directive sets the goal for reduction of emission to 80-95 % from the 1990 level. National plans will have to include milestones for 2030 and 2040 and define “measurable progress indicators” such as renovation rates or a cap on energy consumption per square meter. The actual measures will be entirely up to national governments. This will be a challenge in all Member States. The directive outlines, however, type of actions needed in several areas: legislation, revision of building codes, financing of the renovations, and technology. Innovative solution are required for all areas. The directive required actions in some specific areas focusing on renovation, building energy managements and automation systems, smartness of the buildings, electrical mobility, energy certificates, and energy inspections. The scope of the revised directive is expanded to cover also the energy production on the site.
Indoor air quality and climate issues have a little more attention than before is but not at all enough. Only a general remark is given: Member States shall encourage in the buildings with major renovation to address also healthy indoor climate conditions.
During the negotiations the original requirements for the energy management systems and automation were opposed by the Member States. In the final text many of them are omitted. The final document has only requirement for room temperature control and some additional mandatory requirements set for the non-residential buildings with thermal capacity over 290 kW (heating or air-conditioning systems). These buildings have to be equipped with building automation and control system by 2025.
Another topic for long discussions during the negotiations were the inspections. Many Member States considered them not cost effective, and the inspections were proposed to be left out, however, many experts, like REHVA, considered them useful. The revised directive requires inspections for the heating and air conditioning systems with capacity more than 70 kW. An alternative methodology for the inspections is also accepted. There has been discussions do the inspections cover also ventilation systems. It is not clear in the revised directive either to what extent ventilation systems are included, directive uses the wording “the combined air-conditioning systems and ventilation system”. The Commission has to conclude a feasibility study on the inspections of stand-alone ventilation systems by 2020. Hopefully the Scandinavian (particularly Swedish) experience on these inspections will be used.
Revised directive shows that EU believes in electric cars. Several new articles set requirements for the charging possibilities of electric vehicles. One idea behind those requirements may be that batteries of the electric car could be integrated with the electric network for the building for the electrical storage. Articles dealing with charging of electrical vehicles are much more detailed than many others, more like building codes.
A completely new topic/idea “Smartness indicator” of a building was launched in the first draft of the directive. The idea of this indicator was to develop a single number which could tell to the stake holders how well a building can 1) control and optimise its energy use, 2) serve the occupants regarding indoor environment and 3) adapt its energy use to the requirements of the energy grid. The topic was not well prepare and it was not accepted into the directive yet, however, the Commission has to develop a delegated act by stablishing an optional common EU scheme for rating the smart readiness of buildings by the end of 2019. The new name of the indicator “Smartness Readiness Indicator” reflects also the changes in the thinking. Development of the indicator is going on as a consulting work. Some results of this work have been available for review already. I will return to the contents of the proposal and other issues in the directive in my following writings.
Olli is the former Secretary General of REHVA and editor-in-chief of the REHVA Journal. He was REHVA president from 2005 to 2008. He has served as the professor of Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning at Helsinki University of Technology, Finland and supervised over 250 Master´s Theses and 20 PhD-level theses.