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MEPs adopt plans to decarbonise the building sector

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted plans, already agreed upon with the Council, to help reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector.

The proposed revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive aims to progressively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption in the EU building sector and make it climate-neutral by 2050. It also aims to have the worst-performing buildings renovated and improve information-sharing on energy performance.

“The Directive shows clearly how climate policy can have real and immediate benefits for the less well-off in our society,” said the rapporteur for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Ciarán Cuffe. “This law will help bring down energy bills and addresses the root causes of energy poverty while delivering thousands of high-quality, local jobs across the EU. Tackling 36 per cent of Europe’s CO2 emissions, it adds an absolutely essential pillar to the European Green Deal.”

All new buildings should be zero-emission as of 2030; new buildings occupied or owned by public authorities should be zero-emission as of 2028. When calculating the emissions, Member States will take into account the life-cycle global warming potential of a building, including the production and disposal of the construction products used to build it.

For residential buildings, Member States will have to put in place measures to ensure a reduction in the average primary energy use of at least 16 per cent by 2030 and at least 20 to 22 per cent by 2035. Regarding non-residential buildings, Member States will have to renovate the 16 per cent worst-performing by 2030 and, by 2033, the worst-performing 26 per cent through minimum energy performance requirements.

The EU Solar Standard

An important aspect of the Directive concerns solar installations which can be deployed by Member States if technically and economically suitable, first progressively depending on the size of existing buildings while all new residential buildings must have solar PVs by 2030.

Commenting on the Directive, Jan Osenberg, Senior Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe called it a huge milestone to accelerate renewable deployment.

“From 2026, the EU Solar Standard will require solar rooftop installations across a significant proportion of Europe’s building stock,” he said. “The EU Solar Standard puts the power in citizens’ hands and will enshrine the energy transition into the places where we sleep, work and live.”

“As the grid catches up to the energy transition, installing energy generation where we use energy will also help the grid, by keeping electricity local and empowering citizens with the information and technical ability to use electricity smartly,” he continued. “They can see when they are generating more electricity and can adjust their consumption accordingly. The implementation of the Directive must translate law into reality, with effective integration into construction practices and building requirements.”

Phasing out fossil fuels in heating and cooling

According to the Directive, Member States will also have to outline how they will adopt measures to decarbonise heating systems, with a view to phasing out fossil fuels in heating and cooling by 2040. Subsidising stand-alone fossil fuel boilers will be prohibited as of 2025. Financial incentives will still be possible for hybrid heating systems that use a considerable share of renewable energy, such as those combining a boiler with a solar thermal installation or a heat pump.

Agricultural buildings and heritage buildings can be excluded from the new rules, while EU countries may decide to also exclude buildings protected for their special architectural or historical merit, temporary buildings, churches and places of worship.

The Directive will now have to be formally endorsed by the Council of Ministers, too, in order to become law.

Read the full article here

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