Energy Committee adopts its version of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

After a long negotiating and compromising process, the European Parliament’s Energy Committee (ITRE) voted on 9 February to approve Ciaran Cuffe’s (Green MEP from Dublin) report on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). This report will now head to the Parliament’s Plenary session where all MEPs will have to vote on this text, which could still be subject to last minute amendments.

EuropeOn has followed the EPBD closely and supported Ciaran Cuffe in its work to set buildings on the right course to reach climate neutrality. At an event organised by EuropeOn last month, Cuffe highlighted how our asks had been taken up in this EPBD report:

  • New skills and workforce provisions have been added to the original EPBD proposal. If adopted in the (upcoming) final compromise, Member States would have to report on how they address this in their plans to renovate buildings, set up and promote training adequate opportunities.
  • Electrical installations are now directly considered, which has not been the case in previous versions of the EPBD. They are now included in the definition of ‘Technical Building Systems’, which fall under a number of requirements throughout the Directive, mainly seeking to ensure their efficiency, safety and modernity.
  • Energy Performance Certificates will now include final energy consumption, but it remains unclear whether Member States will be able to fully rate energy performance if buildings based on only final energy. Hopefully this will be cleared up in the next phases of the legislative process.
  • Charging-readiness, or making sure buildings have the infrastructure to accommodate EV chargers, has been further enhanced since the proposal. A large share of new and renovated buildings will have to be fully ‘pre-cabled’, so that EV users only have to add the final wiring to their parking spot to install their wallbox.
  • Provisions for building automation and controls have also been strengthened and most new and renovated buildings will have to be equipped with an extended list of smart functionalities for more energy efficiency and better indoor quality.

This text is however most likely to evolve between now and its final adoption into a law. As mentioned, the next step will be the Plenary vote in Parliament, expected mid-March. Once the Parliament’s mandate is adopted, this will serve as its basis for negotiations with the Member States who have their own views on the EPBD proposal.

For EuropeOn, it is crucial that the aforementioned advances made in the Energy Committee are safeguarded going forward. Further, negotiators should seek to amend the text to fix some of the concessions that have been made in the Energy Committee in order to find a compromise:

  • On Minimum Energy Performance Standards, a last-minute exemption was added for Member States that deem they would not be able to comply with this requirement on the basis of economic or technical feasibility or based on the lack of skilled workforce. The latter is extremely worrying and backwards as the same article mentions Member States will have to make sure enough skilled workers are available to comply with these standards.
    • This basis for exemption is dangerous as it risks undermining the strides made on skills in this report
  • The current text does not fully ban gas boilers as it considers that boilers that are ready to operate on ‘renewable fuels’ are considered green. This is a slippery slope as it may well be a ‘trojan horse’ for gas boilers to keep on being installed throughout this decade which, because of their lifetime over ten years, could endanger our climate goals.