ALL buildings built after December 2018 will have to produce their own renewable energy on-site, says the European Parliament's industry committee, amending the 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
By December 31, 2018 at the latest, EU member states must ensure that all newly-constructed buildings produce almost all the energy they consume on-site - e.g. via solar panels or heat pumps, says the Industry Committee which adopted the EPBD amendment this week.
The Industry Committee also wants member states to set national targets for existing buildings - i.e. to fix minimum percentages of buildings that should be zero energy by 2015 and by 2020 respectively. The Commission proposal did not include any specific target dates for zero-energy buildings. The amended directive states that by the end of 2010, the Commission should establish a common European definition of "net zero energy buildings".
A building's energy performance will have to be upgraded to meet at least minimum energy performance requirements whenever it undergoes major renovation or building components and technical building systems (such as windows, boilers or air conditioning systems) are replaced, says the amended text.
MEPs define a "major renovation" as a refurbishment of more than 25% of the building's surface or where the total costs of the renovation are higher than 20% of the building's value.
The committee added new provisions to the text which require member states to draw up national action plans by June 30, 2011 setting out financial measures for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, such as low-interest loans and fiscal rebates on income.
A spokesman for EPEE (European Partnership for Energy and the Environment) said "EPEE, the voice of the heating, cooling and refrigeration industry in Europe, welcomes today's vote which sends the right signal for a stronger law on buildings, considering that they represent 40% of EU's energy consumption".
The minimum energy performance requirements are to be set by the member states, says the directive but the Commission will have to establish a common method for calculating the energy performance of buildings by March 31, 2010. Member states should also set minimum energy performance standards for holiday homes used more than four months a year, too, say MEPs, deleting a proposed exemption for such houses.
However, the following are excluded from the directive's energy efficiency requirements:
Small houses (with a floor area of under 50m2), religious buildings, temporary buildings used for less than 18 months, workshops and agricultural buildings with low energy demand and protected historic buildings where an energy-efficiency measure would "unacceptably alter their character".
The EPEE spokesman added "EPEE members are manufacturing efficient air-conditioning equipment which contributes to reduced energy consumption of buildings. An important part of the EPBD should be the increased use of renewable technology, including heat pumps; that can also help the EU to achieve its target of using renewables for 20% by 2020".