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Energy performance of buildings

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Energy performance of buildings

The construction sector represents 40% of the total energy consumption of the European Union (EU). A reduction in the consumption of energy in this sector is therefore a priority to achieve the 20-20-20 targets for energy efficiency. In this framework, this Directive sets out common requirements concerning the energy performance of buildings.


Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings.


This Directive aims to promote the energy performance of buildings and building units. The Directive aims to clarify and strengthen the provisions of Directive 2002/91/EC which it repeals, in order to extend its scope of application and reduce the considerable differences between Member States in terms of the energy performance of buildings. Its provisions cover energy needs for the heating of premises, the production of hot water, cooling, ventilation and lighting for new and existing buildings, whether they are residential or not.

Methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings

Member States shall adopt, either at national or regional level, a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings which takes into account certain elements, among which:

  • the thermal characteristics of a building (thermal capacity, insulation, etc.);
  • heating insulation and hot water supply;
  • the air-conditioning installation;
  • the built-in lighting installation;
  • indoor climatic conditions.

The positive influence of other aspects such as local solar exposure, natural lighting, electricity produced by cogeneration and district or block heating or cooling systems are also taken into account.

Setting minimum requirements

Member States shall put in place, in compliance with the aforementioned calculation methodology, minimum requirements for energy performance in order to achieve cost-optimal levels. The level of these requirements is reviewed every 5 years.

When setting requirements, Member States may differentiate between new and existing buildings and between different categories of buildings.

New buildings shall comply with these requirements and undergo a feasibility study, looking at the installation of renewable energy supply systems, heat pumps, district or block heating or cooling systems and cogeneration systems, before construction starts.

When undergoing major renovation, existing buildings shall have their energy performance upgraded so that they also satisfy the minimum requirements.

The following may be exempt from the application of the minimum requirements:

  • officially protected buildings (for example, historic buildings);
  • buildings used as places of worship;
  • temporary buildings;
  • residential buildings intended for a limited annual time of use;
  • stand-alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50 m2.

When new, replaced or upgraded technical building systems such as heating systems, hot water systems, air-conditioning systems and large ventilation systems are installed, they shall also comply with the energy performance requirements.

Building elements that form part of the building envelope and have a significant impact on the energy performance of that envelope (for example, window frames) shall also meet the minimum energy performance requirements when they are replaced or retrofitted, with a view to achieving cost-optimal levels.

This Directive strongly encourages the introduction of intelligent energy consumption metering systems whenever a building is constructed or undergoes renovation, pursuant to the Directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity.

Objective: Nearly zero-energy buildings

By 31 December 2020, all new buildings shall be nearly zero-energy consumption buildings. New buildings occupied and owned by public authorities shall comply with the same criteria by 31 December 2018.

The Commission encourages increasing the numbers of this type of building by putting in place national plans, which include:

  • the Member State’s application in practice of the definition of nearly zero-energy buildings;
  • the intermediate targets for improving the energy performance of new buildings by 2015;
  • information on the policies and financial measures adopted to encourage improving the energy performance of buildings.

Financial incentives and market barriers

Member States shall draw up a list of the existing and potential instruments used to promote improvements in the energy performance of buildings. This list is to be updated every three years.

Energy performance certificates

Member States shall implement a system for the energy performance certification of buildings. It shall include information on the energy performance of a building and recommendations for cost improvements.

When a building or building unit is offered for sale or for rent, the energy performance indicator of the energy performance certificate shall be included in advertisements in commercial media.

When buildings or building units are constructed, sold or rented out, the certificate is to be shown to the new tenant or prospective buyer and handed over to the buyer or new tenant.

With regard to buildings where over 500 m2 is occupied by a public authority and those with a total floor area of over 500 m2, frequently visited by the public, the energy performance certificate shall be displayed in a prominent place and be clearly visible (this threshold shall be lowered to 250 m2 on 9 July 2015).

Member States are responsible for putting in place a system of regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems in buildings.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2010/31/EU



OJ L 153 of 18.6.2010


Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 244/2012 of 16 January 2012 supplementing Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings by establishing a comparative methodology framework for calculating cost-optimal levels of minimum energy performance requirements for buildings and building elements [Official Journal L 81 of 21.3.2012].

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Financial support for energy efficiency in buildings ( COM(2013)0225 final ) [Not published in the Official Journal].

In accordance with Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings, the Commission is to present a report on the progress made by the Member States in relation to increasing the number of buildings with an energy consumption of almost zero. This report is to be presented every three years.

The report concludes that the Member States have not made enough progress in relation to buildings with an energy consumption of almost zero in the framework of the targets set for 2020 given that, by the end of November 2012, only nine Member States had informed the Commission of their national plan in this field.

The progress made, which has been slow and only partial, increases the risk of the Member States not complying with the deadlines to ensure that the buildings have an energy consumption of almost zero. In addition, the absence of clear definitions, medium-term targets and specific support measures manifests itself as uncertainty in the construction industry regarding the regulatory and policy framework, which delays the necessary investment in technology, processes and training and damages the competitiveness of the sector.

Last updated: 06.02.2014