Journal article

Towards nearly zero energy buildings in Europe: a focus on retrofit in non-residential buildings

18 Jan 2017

Buildings are the focus of European (EU) policies aimed at a sustainable and competitive low-carbon economy by 2020. Reducing energy consumption of existing buildings and achieving nearly zero energy buildings (NZEBs) are the core of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the recast of the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD). To comply with these requirements, Member States have to adopt actions to exploit energy savings from the building sector.
This paper describes the differences between deep, major and NZEB renovation and then it provides an overview of best practice policies and measures to target retrofit and investment related to non-residential buildings. Energy requirements defined by Member States for NZEB levels are reported comparing both new and existing residential and non-residential buildings. The paper shows how the attention given to refurbishment of NZEBs increased over the last decade, but the achievement of a comprehensive implementation of retrofit remains one of main challenges that Europe is facing.
Renovation strategies analysis reveals that only a few Member States have planned new measures for energy efficiency in buildings, while the vast majority refers to already existing policies. Member States should effectively develop new detailed measures both to overcome the existing barriers towards retrofit and to guide investment decisions in a forward-looking perspective. The effectiveness of existing policies, as well as new ones, should be better evaluated in most countries. Member States should provide more information and measures specifically targeted to NZEBs renovation and designed for the non-residential stock. Results demonstrate that this sector is characterized by fragmented data, several typologies and high energy consumptions, making the development of effective policies to reduce energy consumption more challenging.
Member States need to design consistent policy instruments (policy packages considering technical, economic and financial aspects) to provide the required long-term stability to investors in efficient buildings. There is also the need to adopt detailed roadmaps towards NZEBs, including quantitative targets, and implement monitor systems to obtain consistent data on policy impacts towards a comprehensive retrofit implementation.

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