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The EU BUILD UP initiative - briefing

17 June 2009
by eub2 -- last modified 17 June 2009

The European Commission BUILD UP initiative supports EU Member States in implementing the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Its new interactive web portal offers access to a wide range of information on best practices, technologies and legislation for energy reduction supplied by the users themselves. Building professionals, public authorities, umbrella organisations and home owners and tenants will have tailored access allowing the sharing of information across Europe.



is intended to reap the benefits of Europe's collective intelligence on energy reduction in buildings for all relevant audiences. It will bring together new practitioners and professional associations while motivating them to exchange best working practices and knowledge and the transfer of tools and resources.

The new web portal will:


  • Enable Home owners and tenants interested in reducing the energy costs of their homes to find out where to obtain practical energy-saving information in their own country or region.
  • Help building professionals to improve skills and learn more about the latest information on energy legislation. It will help them interact with others and access the latest news and events in the field, a database of resources, guidelines and tools, and a database of real examples.
  • Provide public authorities staff who are responsible for energy issues with access to many resources on the legislation, toolkits and guidelines produced by other cities, regions or countries, and a way to share expertise with their peers.
  • Involve umbrella organisations such as energy agencies, industrial associations or non-governmental organisations with an interest in energy saving in buildings and enable them to tell others about their activities and share their successes. Not only will these organisations be able to increase visibility and share resources such as guidelines and best practices, but they will also be able to launch thematic virtual communities through the web portal.


BUILD UP is funded by the EU's Intelligent Energy - Europe Programme, which is managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) on behalf of the European Commission.

Supporting the energy policy agenda



The EU agreed in November 2008 a political agenda to achieve its core energy objectives of sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply. This agenda will lead to a substantial change to Europe's energy system, with public authorities, energy regulators, infrastructure operators, the energy industry and home owners and tenants all actively involved. A key aspect was the adoption of a package of energy-efficiency proposals intended to make savings in key areas, such as buildings.


Reducing the energy use of buildings without compromising comfort and quality is a key challenge. The energy performance of buildings in Europe is currently determined by the EPBD (Directive 2002/91/EC). This was adopted on 16 December 2002 as part of Community initiatives on climate change in relation to commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and security of supply .


The four key elements of the EPBD are:



  • A methodology for calculating the integrated energy performance of buildings
  • Minimum standards on the energy performance of new buildings and existing buildings subject to major renovation
  • Systems for the energy certification of new and existing buildings
  • Regular inspection of boilers and central air-conditioning systems in buildings.


The 2002 Directive concerns the residential and tertiary sectors – offices, public buildings, etc. It covers all aspects of energy efficiency in buildings in an attempt to establish a truly integrated approach. EU Member States are responsible for drawing up the minimum energy performance requirements. They also ensure that qualified and independent personnel carry out the certification and inspection of buildings.


Enormous variations in energy consumption



Energy consumption of buildings varies enormously. New buildings can need less than 3 to 5 l/m 2 of heating oil or equivalent a year. Existing buildings stock consumes, on average, about 25 l/m 2, with some buildings using up to 60 l/m 2. Building products and installation technologies already available can drastically improve energy performance. The result is a reduction in energy consumption that can create net benefits with annual energy cost savings exceeding capital costs for the investments. The best moment for energy improvements is when buildings are constructed or are being renovated.


The Commission proposed a recast EPBD in November 2008 to help home owners and tenants improve the energy efficiency of their houses further and enable construction industry to build better quality buildings. With the changes proposed, energy-performance certificates would become an active energy label for houses. The level of ambition of national or regional building codes that govern energy performance would be increased, using a specific benchmarking system. The scope of the Directive would be broadened, to cover for example all existing buildings when they undergo a major renovation and not only those above 1,000 m 2. Moreover, the public sector would take the lead in investing in low or zero energy and carbon buildings.


Source: European Commission