All new buildings to be 'near-zero-energy' by 2020 (EU)

In a new agreement on the revision of the 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, EU governments and MEPs struck a deal that will force all new buildings constructed after 2020 to consume "near zero energy". The agreement defines near-zero-energy buildings as constructions that have "a very high energy performance" with any energy they use coming "to a very large extent" from renewable sources generated "either on-site or nearby".

Governments will lead the way by ensuring that all new public buildings they own or occupy after 2018 meet the near-zero-energy standard. This agreement is a victory for MEPs because governments dismissed the goals as "unrealistic" when the Parliament first proposed it.

While MEPs were less successful in their attempts to upgrade the efficiency of existing buildings, governments agreed to "develop policies and take measures such as targets" to transform existing buildings into near-zero-energy buildings when they are refurbished.

The council rejected a proposal to remove the threshold (1,000 m²) above which existing buildings undergoing major refurbishment must meet minimum national efficiency standards. Parliament sources have said the deadline for ending the threshold has been delayed until June 2013 at the earliest.

MEPs agreed on a new EU-wide methodology for setting national efficiency requirements on building components such as roofs and windows. The EU's comitology procedure will determine the details later. Member states will be exempt from applying the methodology under certain circumstances. MEPs failed in their bid to secure new cash to fund efficiency improvements in existing buildings. Instead governments will simply have to produce a list of measures and instruments to support the law's implementation. By 2011, the commission must say whether additional EU funding is needed.

EU Energy ministers are expected to approve the deal on the opening day of the Copenhagen climate summit on 7 December. We will provide further analysis in next week's bulletin as information becomes available.

Sources: ENDs, Euractiv, Swedish Presidency, European Parliament

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