Energy performance of buildings

Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings

It aims to improve the energy performance of buildings in the EU, taking into account various climatic and local conditions.
It sets out minimum requirements and a common framework for calculating energy performance.

Following a review of its implementation, Directive 2010/31/EU was amended in 2018 by Directive (EU) 2018/844. The principal aim was to accelerate the cost-effective renovation of existing buildings and to promote smart technologies in buildings. As part of the Clean Energy package, the revised directive complements legislation on energy efficiency.

Key Points

EU countries must set optimal minimum energy performance requirements. These should be reviewed every 5 years. They must cover the building, its components and the energy used for:
space heating;
space cooling;
domestic hot water;
built-in lighting;
other technical building systems.

The European Commission has established a comparative methodology framework to calculate the optimal cost levels for the energy performance requirements.
New buildings must meet the minimum standards. Buildings owned and occupied by public authorities should achieve nearly zero-energy status* by 31 December 2018 and other new buildings by 31 December 2020.

Existing buildings, when undergoing a major renovation, must upgrade their energy performance to meet the applicable requirements.

EU countries must operate an energy performance certification system. The certificates:
provide information for prospective purchasers or tenants of a building’s energy rating;
include recommendations for cost-effective improvements;
must be referred to in all commercial media advertisements when premises are offered for sale or rent.
EU countries’ national authorities must ensure schemes are in place to inspect heating and air-conditioning systems.
Amendments to the original directive

Directive (EU) 2018/844 requires EU countries to draw up long-term renovation strategies to support the renovation of both residential and non-residential buildings into a highly energy-efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050. The strategies should set out a roadmap with measures and measurable progress indicators, with a view to the EU’s long-term 2050 goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 % compared to 1990. The roadmap must include indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050, and specify how they contribute to achieving the EU’s energy efficiency targets in accordance with

Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency.

In addition, the revised directive:
expands the scope of the current inspection regime of heating and air-conditioning systems to include combined systems (with ventilation) and to account for the performance of the systems under typical operating conditions;
encourages the use of information and communication technology and smart automation and control technologies in buildings;
supports the rollout of the infrastructure for electric vehicle recharging in buildings’ car parks by requiring the installation of ducting infrastructure and recharging points;
introduces a ‘smart readiness indicator’ to rate buildings’ capacity to adapt to the needs of the occupant, optimise its operation and interact with the grid.

Application & Background

Directive 2010/31/EU has applied since 8 July 2010 and had to become law in the EU countries by 9 July 2012.

Directive (EU) 2018/844 has applied since 9 July 2018 and has to become law in the EU countries by 10 March 2020.

The building sector in the EU is the largest single energy consumer in Europe, absorbing 40% of energy, and about 75% of buildings are energy inefficient. Given these poor energy efficiency levels, decarbonising the building stock is one of the EU’s long-term goals. This directive is an important element in making buildings more efficient.

Technical building system: technical equipment for space heating, space cooling, ventilation, domestic hot water, built-in lighting, building automation and control, on-site electricity generation, or a combination thereof, including those systems using energy from renewable sources, of a building or building unit.

Nearly zero-energy building: a building that has a very high energy performance. The very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby.


Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings (recast) (OJ L 153, 18.6.2010, pp. 13-35)

Successive amendments to Directive 2010/31/EU have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission Recommendation (EU) 2016/1318 of 29 July 2016 on guidelines for the promotion of nearly zero-energy buildings and best practices to ensure that, by 2020, all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings (OJ L 208, 2.8.2016, pp. 46-57)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Progress by Member States towards nearly zero-energy buildings (COM(2013) 483 final/2, 28.6.2013)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Financial support for energy efficiency in buildings (COM(2013) 225 final, 18.4.2013)

Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC (OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, pp. 1-56)

See consolidated version.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 244/2012 of 16 January 2012 supplementing Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings by establishing a comparative methodology framework for calculating cost-optimal levels of minimum energy performance requirements for buildings and building elements (OJ L 81 of 21.3.2012, pp. 18-36)


There is mandatory energy performance certification for buildings. States must adopt a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings taking account of

  • the thermal capacity of buildings;
  • heating installation and hot water supply;
  • air-conditioning installation;
  • built-in lighting installation;
  • indoor climatic conditions.

The positive influence of other factors such as local solar exposure, natural lighting, electricity by co-generation or district or block heating or cooling systems is taken into account.

New buildings must comply with requirements and undergo a feasibility study before construction starts, looking at the installation of renewable energy supply systems, heat pumps, district or block heating or cooling systems and co-generation systems.

In undergoing a major renovation, existing buildings must have their energy performance upgraded so that they satisfy the minimum requirements.

The following may be exempted:-

  • officially protected buildings;
  • buildings used as places of worship;
  • temporary buildings;
  • residential buildings for a limited annual lease;
  • stand-alone buildings less than 50 square meters.

New building systems such as heating systems, hot water systems, air conditioning systems or large ventilation systems must comply with the energy performance requirements.

A directive encourages the introduction of energy consumption metering when a building is constructed or undergoes renovation.

By 2021 all new buildings are to be nearly zero-energy-consumption buildings.  Public buildings must comply with criteria by 2019. The Commission required national plans.  The plans included

  • member states\’ application of the definition of nearly zero-energy buildings;
  • intermediate targets for improving the performance of buildings by 2015;
  • initiation of policies and financial measures to encourage or improve the energy performance of buildings;

Existing Buildings

States must implement a system for the energy performance certification of buildings.  It must include information on the energy performance of the buildings and recommendations for improvements.

Where a building or building unit is offered for sale or rent, the energy performance certificate must  be included in advertisements and commercial media.

When buildings are constructed, sold, or rented out, the certificate is to be shown to the new tenant or prospective buyer and handed over to the buyer or tenant.

With regard to buildings with a floor area of over 500 square meters occupied by a public authority and  buildings which are frequently visited by the public, the energy performance certificate should be displayed in a permanent place and be visible.


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