The European Union is making it easier to live into truly energy-efficient houses. In November, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers agreed on a recasting of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. The new provisions will require the Member States to work more actively towards low-energy buildings and energy-efficient houses in general and older houses too will be required to be more energy-efficient when they are renovated.
It is several years, now, since energy declarations – showing a building’s energy consumption – were introduced in the EU. The changes introduced with the November 2009 revision clarify the rules for writing energy declarations. In principle, all buildings in the EU must be subject to energy declarations when they are sold or leased. Energy declarations enable residents of buildings to get a clearer idea of energy consumption in their own energy-savings initiatives or to put pressure on the property owner to do so. Under the new provisions, the buyer or tenant of a new apartment is to receive either an energy declaration for the apartment or a copy of the energy declaration that has been made for the apartment building.
The Member States are required to ensure that as of 2020 all new buildings in the EU are low-energy buildings, or ‘nearly zero energy buildings’, as they are also called. All existing buildings will have to be adapted to a set of minimum energy performance requirements. Before the Directive was revised, these energy performance requirements only applied to buildings with a floor area over 1000 m2; they now also apply to smaller buildings. A further change is that the energy performance requirements are also to apply to minor modifications to buildings, not only to major renovations.