The EPBD decrypted: a treasure chest of opportunities to accelerate building decarbonisation

The recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) was formally adopted in April 2024 and published in the Official Journal of the EU on 8 May 2024. This paper summarises what will be in the updated Directive.

This EPBD recast introduced and modified many provisions. It is therefore crucial to identify interlinkages, synergies and overlaps, and to understand the gaps, already in advance of implementation at member state level. This paper highlights the most important provisions:

  • An updated standard for new buildings, including provisions relating to whole-life carbon emissions
  • Minimum Energy Performance Standards to renovate the worst-performing non-residential buildings
  • A mandatory trajectory for the progressive renovation of the residential segment
  • A 2050 vision for the building stock, underpinned by strong national building renovation plans and provisions to decarbonise heating and cooling
  • Improved Energy Performance Certificates
  • An EU framework for the uptake of renovation passports
  • A stronger role for one-stop-shops
  • A more strategic and impactful financial framework
  • A focus on the social fairness of all provisions, both for mandatory requirements and incentives

Context: While several of its provisions might have lost strength and clarity during the negotiating process, the EPBD remains the most important legislative driver for change in the buildings sector. And change is needed: as BPIE’s EU Buildings Climate Tracker shows, the building stock is still not on track to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The recast EPBD offers a treasure chest of opportunities which can contribute to closing the building decarbonisation gap and realign the EU with its 2030 and 2050 targets. But EU legislation is impactful only in so far as its effective implementation. The transposition period of the EPBD will start in summer 2024 with the publication of the legal text in the Official Journal of the EU and will last two years. This period will be crucial to get policies right at the national level.

The recast pays special attention to the social fairness of all provisions. Recognition is given to the social aspects of building decarbonisation policies, with the introduction of legal definitions for specific concepts such as ‘energy poverty’ and ‘vulnerable households’. Policies and requirements put a strong emphasis on the renovation of the worst-performing buildings, which are often occupied by people in energy poverty. The EPBD not only introduces renovation requirements, but also ensures Member States provide specific support to these segments of the population, whether in financing or advisory terms. Finally, Member States must introduce specific safeguards to protect citizens, in particular tenants, and monitor the social impacts of building renovation and decarbonisation policies.

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