Fortum's view on the update of Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)

25 November 2015, 13:56 EET

District heating plays an important role in bringing low-carbon energy sources to buildings. In the EPBD update the promotion of the energy performance of buildings should be based on a system approach and the EU definitions for nearly zero energy buildings improved.

Heating, electricity and cooling use in buildings represents about 40% of the EU’s total final energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD 2009) defines the minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings and for existing buildings that undergo major renovation. All new public buildings taken into use after 2018 and other new buildings after 2020 should be nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB) based on both EU-wide and nationally defined criteria. The key target is to save energy in the buildings sector.

Under the Energy Union work programme, the EPBD will be reviewed during 2016. Fortum participated in a recently organised public consultation.

Fortum's view:

  • Promotion of the energy performance of buildings should be based on an integrated (energy system) approach that considers the whole energy value chain and on primary energy use. The conceivable focus on individual buildings (on-site only) is too narrow and it ignores efficiency improvements outside the building envelope as well as distorts the neutrality principle and fair competition in heat markets.
  • Decision steering for cost-optimality must take into account the system approach, but decision making can only take place at a building level.
  • It should be ensured that the decarbonisation from the electricity grid, district heating and cooling networks and from gas networks will be reflected in the Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).
  • In the future, demand response (DR) in heating and cooling has an increasingly important role in decreasing primary energy use.
  • In terms of energy choices, the EPBD steering should follow the neutrality principle within energy performance requirements for buildings (equal treatment of low-carbon heating and cooling solutions): equality for technology, location and ownership of solutions.
  • The EU definition of the nearly zero energy building (NZEB) should be further clarified, although sufficient national flexibility to account for varying local conditions should be maintained.
  • The target for the non-renewable share of energy (fossil fuels) should be zero.
  • Renewable, recycled or re-used heat should be treated equally. For example, utilising industrial waste heat or the customer’s excess heat production in the smart DH system should have parity in terms of the NZEB definition within the EPBD. Alternatively, the definition of renewable energy could be expanded in the Renewable Energy Directive.

District heating can play an important role in bringing low-carbon and renewable energy sources to buildings, as it can provide scalable access to sources that are impossible for individual buildings, sources such as deep geothermal heat, industrial waste heat utilisation and waste-to-energy. More information and reasoning is included in the attached material.