As part of "Fit for 55," the EU's initiative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, the European Council stated today that its member states have agreed to tighter energy performance criteria targeted at decarbonizing buildings.
The Council's position follows initial suggestions made by the European Commission in December 2021, mandating that all new buildings be zero-emission by 2030 and that the existing building stock is decarbonized by 2050.
Buildings are a major source of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and one of the most difficult to replace due to their durability. According to the European Commission, 40% of EU energy consumption and 36% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to buildings. Heating, cooling, and hot water account for 80% of residential energy usage.
In addition to mandating that all new buildings be zero-emission buildings by 2030, the EU Council's decision calls for all new buildings controlled by public entities to be zero-emission buildings beginning in 2028.
For existing buildings, the Council agreed to introduce minimum energy performance standards corresponding to the maximum amount of primary energy that buildings can use annually per square meter, using thresholds based on the energy use of the national building stock on 1 January 2020 for non-residential buildings and a net zero trajectory for residential buildings by 2050.
In addition, the EU member state agreement stipulates that solar energy installations must be installed on all new public and non-residential buildings above 250 square meters by the end of 2026, and on all new residential structures by the end of 2029.
"The building sector is key to meeting the EU's 2030 and 2050 energy and climate objectives.Jozef Skela, the Czech minister of industry and trade, said, "The building industry is the key to meeting the EU's energy and climate goals for 2030 and 2050. Moreover, the accord agreed today will aid citizens in making significant energy savings. Better and more energy-efficient buildings will enhance the quality of life of inhabitants while lowering their energy expenditures and reducing energy poverty.