Principles for nearly Zero-Energy Buildings


The European Union aims at drastic reductions in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The building stock is responsible for a major share of GHG emissions and should achieve even higher reductions.

The recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) introduced, in Article 9, “nearly Zero-Energy Buildings” (nZEB) as a future requirement to be implemented from 2019 onwards for public buildings and from 2021 onwards for all new buildings. The EPBD defines a nearly zero energy building as follows: [A nearly zero energy building is a] “building that has a very high energy performance… [ ]. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should to a very significant extent be covered by energy from renewable sources, including renewable energy produced on-site or nearby.”

To support the EPBD implementation the Building Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) launched a study in cooperation with Ecofys and the Danish Building Research Institute (SBI) on principles for nearly Zero-Energy Buildings.

Acknowledging the variety in building culture and climate throughout the EU, the EPBD does not prescribe a uniform approach for implementing nearly Zero-Energy Buildings and neither does it describe a calculation methodology for the energy balance. To add flexibility, it requires Member States to draw up specifically designed national plans for increasing the number of nearly Zero-Energy Buildings reflecting national, regional or local conditions. The national plans will have to translate the concept of nearly Zero-Energy Buildings into practical and applicable measures and definitions to steadily increase the number of nearly Zero-Energy Buildings.

The overarching objective of this study is to contribute to a common and cross-national understanding on:

  • an ambitious, clear definition and fast uptake of nearly Zero-Energy Buildings in all EU Member States;
  • principles of sustainable, realistic nearly Zero-Energy Buildings, both new and existing;
  • possible technical solutions and their implications for national building markets, buildings and market players

click here to download the study

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