Romania Eficienta 2024 Forum

The Role of the EPBD Revision in Achieving Climate Neutrality of the European Building Stock

With the buildings sector accounting for almost half of the European Union’s energy consumption, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is a key text for achieving national and regional climate targets, said Valérie Plainemaison, EFIEES Secretary General.

Achieving the long-term goals of making the buildings sector climate neutral by 2050 are complemented by important short-term benefits. The costs of using energy-efficient buildings are much lower, generating savings on energy bills. Energy renovation of buildings also contributes to the fight against energy poverty and the EPBD requires EU Member States to support vulnerable households through dedicated funding schemes, said Bogdan Atanasiu, European Commission representative.

The most important changes introduced by the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive are, from the perspective of Mihnea Catuti, Head of Research, Energy Policy Group: the shift from nZEB (nearly zero energy building) to ZEB (zero emission building) standard, the energy classification of buildings and the measures foreseen for the renovation of the worst performing buildings, as well as the provisions related to embodied carbon emissions, essential for decarbonisation of the building stock.

Following the formal adoption of the revised EPBD, Romania will have to transpose the new regulations into national legislation and set clear interim targets to ensure that a climate-neutral building stock is achieved by 2050. The EPBD introduces specific tools to support the thorough, phased energy retrofitting of the existing building stock, taking into account the carbon footprint over their entire life cycle.

Oana Özmen, Secretary of the Committee for Industries and Services of the Chamber of Deputies, said that the Parliament has already started the process of harmonising Romanian legislation with the new regulations established by the EPBD revision. The draft legislation, which aims to amend Law 372/2005, will introduce minimum energy performance requirements on the basis of which building renovation passports will be issued. These are essential to get a true picture of the performance of the renovation in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Romania has a significant stock of old, energy inefficient buildings in need of extensive renovation. The solutions offered by the building sector will make an important contribution to reducing energy consumption and operational emissions from building use, but also to improving conditions for occupants by increasing indoor air quality, ensuring a constant, comfortable temperature and low noise levels thanks to the high-performance materials used for thermal and acoustic insulation.

People’s quality of life is the most important motivator for addressing the building stock, according to Adrian Joyce, Director of Renovate Europe. The main benefits of energy-efficient buildings correspond to the three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic. Socially, it protects users’ health and provides the comfort needed to carry out their activity in the best possible conditions. Environmental protection is achieved by reducing energy waste and pollution, and by creating new jobs in the construction sector, local economic prosperity is supported.

Local governments benefit from funds for energy efficiency in buildings allocated through structural programmes, in particular the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). The tendency of the authorities to focus on public buildings, hospitals and educational establishments has become visible, says Catalin Lungu, president of OAER, but it will be very important to maintain a sustained pace and monitor the works in order to achieve the expected results: energy savings and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

“We live in a country dominated by a certain spirit of conservatism, a country that relies on best practice cases, meaning we need to see that it can be done,” said Alexandru Muresan, CEO of Renergia, speaking about the importance of the examples offered by the nZEB standard renovations of public education units through the Romania Eficienta programme for local government authorities.

Romania Eficienta will continue the energy renovation of schools in the Romanian public system, concluded Radu Dudau, President of Energy Policy Group and coordinator of the programme. He also announced a new premiere: Romania Eficienta will carry out in parallel two energy rehabilitation projects to the nZEB standard, and the ambitious plan is that the work needed to increase the energy performance of the selected school buildings will be completed this year.

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