A new project has launched to further boost action to decarbonise Europe’s buildings and implement its new building policy through a comprehensive implementation of new and strengthened provisions in the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

Funded by the European Union’s LIFE Programme, EPBD.wise will provide direct support to local authorities in six European countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania and newly appointed EU accession candidate, Ukraine) to implement the revised EPBD.

The project has been launched at a critical time for Europe’s buildings and climate policy. After two years of negotiations, EU institutions reached a provisional agreement on the EPBD on 7 December 2023. Pending a final text of the Directive (forthcoming in Q2 2024), Member States will have two years to transpose it into national law and begin immediate implementation.

‘The ball is now in the court of national governments,’ says Oliver Rapf, Executive Director at BPIE (Buildings Performance Institute Europe).

‘If national governments take EPBD implementation seriously, it will lower heating bills, provide more comfortable homes, stimulate innovation in the construction industry and economic growth, all while reducing the climate impact of buildings.’’

The revised Directive comes at a crucial moment. Recent gas, energy and economic crises have triggered short-term actions and objectives on energy consumption, leaving EU countries with the challenging task of finding solutions to implement them all at once and avoid lock-in effects.

“We cannot underestimate the strategic importance of reducing the need for energy through highly efficient buildings,” says Lukas Kranzl, senior scientist at TU Wien and EPBD.wise coordinator.

“Comprehensive implementation of the revised EPBD is foundational to any strategy to achieve energy sovereignty and avoid volatile energy prices, for good.”

Reducing emissions from buildings is also crucial to meeting the EU’s Paris Agreement commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. In the EU, buildings represent 36% of CO2 emissions and 40% of energy demand. According to BPIE’s 2023 Buildings Climate Tracker, the EU building stock remains far off track to substantially reduce emissions and achieve its 2030 and 2050 climate targets. A serious effort to implement and strengthen policies in the building sector must significantly ramp up now.

The project consortium will build a replicable model to support the widespread implementation of new or strengthened measures in the EPBD revision, including the new zero-emission building standard, national building renovation plans, renovation passports, energy performance certificates, and minimum energy performance standards across Europe. To provide useful support to national governments, the consortium will develop guidelines on how to design new policies and instruments, measure their effectiveness (monitoring, reporting and policy evaluation) and meet EU and national needs and objectives.