The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) – the next steps

The next steps towards energy-efficient buildings and electro-mobility in the EU. An update on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and its consequences for building owners and smart building technologies.

On October 11th 2017 the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the European Parliament took further steps in the direction of a revised version of the EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive). We take a look at it from a building automation and building management perspective with a focus on higher smart building technology investments as a consequence.

About 75% of buildings are energy-inefficient and, depending on the Member State, only 0.4-1.2% of them are renovated each year (European Parliament PR)

The approval of the approved EPBD amendments and new measures fits in the ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package, which consists of several legislative initiatives and several other initiatives with regards to the promotion of renewables, energy efficiency and the design of electricity markets to name a few.

The ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package, whereby the EU, among others, 1) wants to make new buildings as energy-efficient as possible by 2050 also aims to 2) boost renovations, 3) introduce smarter ways of monitoring energy performance and air quality conditions and 4) boost electrical recharging and parking infrastructure for electro-mobility.

It is precisely in the areas which we just summed up that the approved measures with regards to a new version of the EPBD come in. Once the final version of the directive is published and comes into force (after still a few steps) member states need to have their legislation adapted as is the case with all EU directives (as opposed to EU regulations such as the EU GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation). Here is what you need to know.

Energy performance of buildings directive - the new EPBD and its consequences

The global push towards smart energy-efficient buildings – regulations and beyond

It needs to be said that across the globe, and certainly in Europe (including countries that don’t belong to the EU), regulations have tightened and energy efficiency, green buildings and money saving drive the building automation and building management, power management, energy efficiency and smart buildings markets and initiatives.

In an interview on building management evolutions and drivers in the connected age, BMS expert Martin Feder of the EcoXpert partner program of Schneider Electric previously gave the example of Switzerland (not part of the EU) where large companies such as manufacturers need to have the ability to tell local authorities a year in advance how much energy it is going to reduce its energy consumption by and gets taxed when it misses the target. For manufacturing and other industrial markets this is indeed an Industry 4.0 mandate as well as we tackled previously – energy efficiency as an inherent component of Industry 4.0.

While in the past the mentality was one of ‘you tried, you didn’t make it, next year better’, it shifts to a taxing on your energy consumption in case you missed the target (Martin Feder)

You can imagine that this has quite some consequences on a technological level. Knowing how much you’re going to reduce your energy consumption by isn’t just a matter of having very precise data and planning but also about making sure you hit the target. And here the Internet of Things and smart building technologies in general play a key role.

On a side note: Switzerland – and several other countries – also have programs to boost renovations and increase energy efficiency overall in a context of cost savings and of and ecology. Moreover, green building certifications such as US LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are increasingly in demand and not just because of energy efficiency and ecology but also because of peer pressure, building value and expectations of tenants.

The Energy Performance and Building Directive (EPBD) and the intelligent building space

Back to the Energy Performance and Building Directive (EPBD). As Martin Feder, who is responsible for the BMS certification badge of EcoXpert and sees the impact of this global awareness and regulatory push on the building management systems space, said in the same interview, since the EPBD in Europe and other regulations elsewhere there is a major change.

Martin: “since these regulations there is a real value attached to the energy saving and environmental dimension of a building and an understanding of the importance of the whole greenness of the planet and energy consumption overall.”

Quite obviously saving costs is one of the many other important drivers of the evolutions in the building management and automation space as well.

How will the revised version of the EBPD influence all this? When looking at the approved measures the ITRE announced the demand for smart building technologies will only continue to grow and even accelerate.

Buildings consume most energy in Europe, absorbing 40% of final energy (European Parliament PR)

In the highlights section of the ITRE home page we read that “The rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs agreed on compromise amendments amending the proposal of the Commission with regard to Member States’ long-term renovation strategies, provisions to promote electro-mobility, to reinforcing the use of building automation and control, and the introduction of a ‘smartness indicator’ to measure a building’s capacity to use ICE and electronic systems”.

The press release from the European Parliament makes it all a bit more tangible.

Emphasizing that buildings absorb 40 percent of final energy in Europe, that approximately 75 percent of buildings are energy-inefficient and that, depending on member state, only 0.4-1.2% of them are renovated each year, the press release sums up the new measures that are now agreed upon and are ready to move further along the legislative process chain of the EU.

Three important goals of the revised EBPD: boosting renovations for more energy-efficient buildings, supporting infrastructure for electrical vehicles in new buildings and better monitoring of buildings energy performance to reduce costs

The key takeaways from the new measures as agreed on October 11th:

  • A ‘smartness indicator’ measuring tool (you can’t really get much closer to smart buildings) needs to help reduce energy consumption by, among others, adapting the building to the needs of the occupant.
  • That measuring tool isn’t just about monitoring energy performance, there is also a prioritization of high standards of indoor health and air quality conditions (bringing us to even more smart building technologies).
  • The MEPs want a clear strategy that makes both public and private buildings (that includes residential buildings, small buildings of small businesses, larger buildings with offices, factory buildings, critical power buildings, everything) highly energy-efficient by 2050, beyond only boosting renovations.
  • On a side note: given the fact that many buildings are energy-inefficient and that renovation percentages are so low renovations will be key for another – economical – reason too: as the press release mentions without really making the link the construction industry generates about 9% of European GDP and accounts for 18 million jobs.
  • Those same MEPs suggest the introduction of energy reduction benchmarks for 2030 and 2040 and clearly measurable progress indicators to be able to evaluate how new buildings contribute to the overall energy-efficiency goals of the EU (bring in more intelligent building functionalities as measuring progress means data).
  • Last but not least, it is confirmed that in the scope of electro-mobility whereby the EU clearly choses the path of electric vehicles, infrastructure needs to be added to 1) all new buildings and 2) buildings where major renovations taking place. This infrastructure for electric vehicles includes electrical recharging points and parking infrastructures in buildings with more than 10 parking spaces.
It is vital that Member States show a clear commitment and take concrete actions in their long-term planning. This includes facilitating access to financial tools, showing investors that energy efficiency renovations are prioritised, and enabling public authorities to invest in well-performing buildings (Bendt Bendtsen, rapporteur)

For the next steps in the whole process check out the press release and consult the ‘Improved energy performance of buildings’ PDF (first edition).

For more initiatives in the broader scope of the ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package such as clean energy financing bookmark the ITRE home page that leads you to the debates, documents and so on as we come closer to a revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive or EPBD.

Top image: Shutterstock – Copyright: leolintang – several quotes are from the EU press release on the approval of the amendements as a next step towards the revised EBPD and making buildings in the EU highly energy-efficient and money-saving by 2050.