The EU authorities have new rules on the energy efficiency of buildings in the works, which will bring great potential for renovation in the next 10 years

Thermal image of a residential building without facade insulation. Photo: <a href=""target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href=""target="_blank">Creative Commons License</a>

Residential buildings must achieve energy class D by 2033, non-residential buildings as early as 2030

The EU Parliament has approved a Commission draft that will bring significant demand for building retrofits over the next 10 years: According to the draft, residential buildings must achieve energy class E by 2030, and even energy class D by 2033.

For non-residential buildings, these targets are even to be achieved by 2027 (energy class E) and 2030 (energy class D).

The energy class of a building can be read in the energy performance certificate, which has been mandatory since 2002. It is issued by energy consultants.

According to estimates, 35 million buildings throughout the EU need to be renovated to improve their energy efficiency, especially older buildings.

In first place among the measures are new windows, façade insulation or solar systems for the roofs.

The new directives are currently in the process of being agreed between the Council of Ministers of the member countries and the Parliament. There is already resistance from the Council: individual countries, such as Italy, have declared that the ambitious program would overstretch their capabilities.

In many cases, the owners’ associations are taking a front against the guidelines.

So far, there are uncertainties regarding the energy classes. They still vary from country to country, but are to be standardized by 2025.

The classification of household appliances is familiar: For washing machines, for example, they indicate the consumption of water and electricity. A is the best category, G the worst.

The new guidelines for buildings are part of the so-called European Green Deal. Its goal is to make the EU the world’s first climate-neutral economy by 2050 and to decouple economic growth from resource consumption.

The building sector is of particular importance here, as it accounts for 40% of energy consumption in the EU.

As for the new regulations, member states will be able to determine how – not: whether – they implement the directives. For example, they can grant exemptions if renovation costs would lead to significant increases in rent.

All parties assume that there will be subsidies from Brussels. However: in view of 27 member countries, only sums in the billions can have a real impact.

Parliament for climate neutral buildings by 2050 webpage

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(28.06.2023, USA: 06.28.2023)