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EU sets higher energy-saving standards for buildings built after 2020

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On Tuesday, MEPs approved the EU's new energy efficiency legislation for buildings, which will help consumers to cut their energy bills and the EU as a whole to hit its climate change target of using 20% less energy in ten years' time.

EU Member States will have to alter their building codes so that all new buildings constructed from the end of 2020 meet high energy-saving standards. Existing buildings will have to be upgraded where possible.

Buildings account for around 40% of the EU's total energy use and are Europe's largest source of emissions, so improving their energy performance would help reach CO2 emission goals.

The directive sets out rules for the energy performance of both new and existing buildings. Member States will have to take measures to achieve these requirements at "cost-optimal levels".

Higher standards for new buildings

All buildings put up from the end of 2020 must have high energy-saving standards and, to a large extent, use renewable energy. Public authorities' building projects are to lead the way two years earlier. Part of the funding for these changes will come from the EU budget.

Upgrading of existing buildings

Where feasible the energy performance of existing buildings will have to be improved during major renovations. When renovating, owners will be encouraged to install "smart meters" and replace heating, hot-water plumbing and air-conditioning systems with high-efficiency alternatives such as heat pumps. Regular inspections of boilers and air conditioning systems will be required.

The directive approved at second reading on Tuesday is part of a wider energy efficiency legislative package. The EP's report was drafted by MEP Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D, RO). A separate report on the new layout of the EU energy efficiency label is expected to be approved on Wednesday.

Energy performance of buildings - final text (Council common position)

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