EU Experience

After the first oil crisis in the mid-1970s, Europe and the rest of the world realized that security of energy supply is not guaranteed and energy can become too expensive, threatening economic development and harming the environment. Over the forty intervening years, energy efficiency (EE) has become recognised as a vital ingredient in EU policies, including a series of Directives that have applied to all Member States. Energy efficiency policies and measures in buildings have been a priority.

The EU continues to develop its energy efficiency policies with careful steps that would initially support:

  • Adoption of a foundation, in legislation and standards, which seeks to eliminate poor standards, reduce energy usage, costs and related emissions, and enable energy efficient product and services markets to grow.
  • Research and development for EE products and EE technical solutions, development of technical standards, etc.
  • Opening the EE market through a variety of actions, including financial support for EE projects, development of innovative financing mechanisms, awareness and information dissemination activities, promotion of best practices, implementation of demonstration projects, etc.

In general, the EU initially avoided taking strict compulsory regulatory measures that could harm local manufacturing, the construction industry and other market actors and burden consumers with extensive cost for EE solutions that were expensive at that time. As the market matured enough and EE products and technical solutions became available at affordable costs, EU started imposing obligatory EE measures through its legislation. The EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, or EPBD, was a characteristic case of policy development since year 2000.  It has been accompanied and reinforced by directives on Energy Efficiency (EED), Energy Labelling and EcoDesign.  Further information, especially for the EPBD, can be found in the position papers available on this website.

Key EU policy background

The continually evolving and strengthening EU energy efficiency policies through the EPBD and EED are key instruments for driving market change in the construction sector and delivering on EU energy efficiency policy targets.  These two position papers look at the key aspects and implementation experience to date across the EU, which has been diverse, but there are many good practice case examples relevant to the ECBC.  Despite the challenges, EPBD implementation has resulted in step changes in the ambition level of national building codes in Europe and is driving real improvements in the energy performance, environmental quality and long term economic sustainability of the building stock.  It is making energy performance an increasingly visible feature in the construction and property market, and its impact on building specification has begun to extend from the newbuild sector into the renovation sector.

No. Position Paper Indicative elements
1 EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive: the continuing journey
  • Background and origin
  • Alignment and linkage with other EU policies
  • Key requirements relevant to building energy codes
  • Review and strengthening – from phase 1 to phase 3
  • Institutional and legal processes
  • Market stimulus role of energy performance certification (EPC) or labelling
  • Key support roles of collaborative ‘Concerted Action’ and European Standards
  • Implementation experiences – variability, good practice examples, learnings
  • Impacts of EPBD – market capacity and behaviour, overall energy savings
  • Next phase: driving for nearly zero energy buildings, the renovation challenge, smart buildings, smart financing
2 Developing EE policies in EU and their relation with EE in buildings
  • Overview of evolution of energy policies in EU since 80s up to date
  • The logic of development policies, from voluntary measures to compulsory regulations
  • Key directives and regulations
  • How the Energy Efficiency Directive unifies and promotes all EE policies, including Energy Performance of Building Directives