NextGen EPC Cluster’s Recommendations for the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
During the preparation for the recast of the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, the Cluster offered their recommendations to update the Directive with the lessons learned throughout their lifetime of research on the harmonization perspectives of EPCs.
crossCert’s recommendations address the lack of harmonisation of EPC methods across Europe. According to our experts, the recast should have greater consideration of the lack of harmonisation of EPC methods across Europe. As documented by crossCert here, significant differences exist between calculation and assessment approaches across different European countries. As well as questioning the equivalence of energy rating bands between countries, this also raises the likelihood that EPC innovations such as Building Renovation Passports, SRI, and Operational Energy Ratings, will function in a different way when placed within these different methodologies. Field trials and testing of some of these innovations are currently underway in some countries, which is welcome, but the diversity of EPC approach (and its consequences) could be more explicitly addressed.
QualDeEPC points out the the original objectives for introducing EPCs (to make energy performance transparent in the building market, as a measure of energy costs of using a building thata potential buyer or tenant would be interested in; and 2) to encourage energy efficiency renovation) still shows significant challenges in achieving these two objectives. The recast of the EU Directive on the Overall Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) provides a chance to enhance both the usefulness and quality of EPCs and the EPC schemes overall. The project recommends to:
- Ensure high user-friendliness of the EPC template and data by improving the EPC forms to be highly user-friendly to successfully convey the given information to all users. To support policy makers, the project suggests include the information needed to stimulate deep (energy) renovation, in an enhanced EPC form template, with 4 pages plus optional annexes.
- Increase the coverage of the building stock with EPCs based on an energy audit or Renovation Passports: the Commission’s draft proposal for the recast of the EPBD includes a new article 10 on renovation passports and then specifies and regulates the renovation passport in more detail, particularly its “objective to transform the building into a zero-emission building by 2050 at the latest”. However, the renovation passport is only proposed as a voluntary tool, and will not be operational before 2025. Both tools, EPCs and renovation passports, would therefore not cover all buildings in need of energy efficiency renovation.
- To include much clearer requirements for EPC assessors to formulate their renovation recommendations in a way consistent with deep energy renovation,
U-CERT considered the needs of building professionals and developed an EU calculation engine (software “kernel”). Their recommendations were developed to facilitate & support a transparent and holistic approach in EPBD’s transposition, implementation and monitoring at Member State level with regards to building performance assessment methods. A key amendment proposed by U-CERT project is the replacement of total primary energy use by non-renewable primary energy use which is a fundamental issue for the proper calculation of building performance, including that of zero-emission buildings. They argued that the total primary energy indicator does not allow for a meaningful calculation of the energy use, as it does not distinguish between the renewable and non-renewable energy, and it includes heat extracted from ambient. For example, when comparing the energy performance of gas boilers with heat pumps, the gas boilers have a lower total primary energy use due to this inclusion.
Furthermore, U-Cert experts suggest that building professionals also need a common language to reach a level playing field of quality, to develop common training and qualification of experts. The European Commission financed the development of European standards (Mandate 480) facilitatingthe implementation of the EPBD at national level thus they should be used now. Accordingly, the EBPD Recast should be amended to ensure that Member States apply a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings in accordance with the common general framework.
E-DYCE project experts' opinion on closing the performance gap is proposing to open the calculation method/tool to extra functionalities including the possibility to embed Performance Gap detection (difference between actual measured and theoretical calculated). This way the recast EBPD would ensure that buildings stay energy efficient only in theory. Furthermore, they suggest (among others) to anchor operative labelling in smart meter data (heat &electricity) preferably with the support of IEQ sensors.
D^2EPC developed several recommendations addressing the challenge that there is no common European approach in the implementation of the EPCs which caused high diversity among the Member States (MS). Some of the simplification rules for the calculation process, intended to reach a “low-cost approach”, such as simplifications for buildings with varying window qualities andwall thicknesses, wrong building year, inaccurate occupancy have led to the opposite effect andresulted in inaccurate outcomes. When planning thermal renovations, the building owners andauthorities responsible for local energy plans are usually not making their decisions based on the EPCs. The D2EPC expert identified the need for a human-centric certificate, pointing out that human comfort aspects related to occupant well-being in inhabited spaces are currently not considered by the existing EPC schemes.
SmartLivingEPC stated the need for more reliable and cost-effective calculation methods. According to the project experts, new rating schemes are needed based not only on the asset energy assessment of the building but also on other energy-related ratings of the buildings (SRI, Level(s)), as well as on actual data on the energy performance of buildings HVAC, delivered by technical audits. The project experts suggest this rating to be the result of a weighted rating of a set of building-related indicators, including the assessment scheme aspects related to the sustainability and the smartness of the building, the well-being of its users, and the energy performance of the building shell. They also suggest to further develop the current EPC system in a Complex EPC system. A parallel scheme at the level of assessing the energy performance on neighborhood level would aim for the certification of building within a neighborhood (district) based on the certification of individual units, as well as on additional aspects following an integrated participatory and neighborhood-based approach.
TIMEPACpointed out that a voluntary Renovation passport will probably not be sufficiently effective and thus will not meet the intention of the recast EPBD. If decarbonisation of the building stock is a serious goal, then every building that does not have zero emission performance must have a renovation plan or show in some other way that this goal can be achieved. Therefore, it cannot be voluntary. The TIMEPAC experts furthermore pointed out that the energy performance assessment can be done for a part of the building (i.e. a building unit) or the whole building thus It is necessary to distinguish between both, and to have both types of assessment:
- to make it possible for owners or tenants to compare and assess the energy performance, it is preferable to consider a single building unit,
- recommendations for the cost-effective improvement of the energy performance and the reduction of operational greenhouse gas emissions should be preferable referred to the whole building.
X-tendo The X-tendo project assessed several aspects of EPCs and how a balance could be achievedwithin competing priorities such as (a) performance gap in asset vs measured ratings, (b) diversitof calculation methodologies,(c) quality control, (d) balancing cost and quality, (e) training and upskilling of assessors, and (f) user-friendliness of EPCs. The X-tendo experts aim to make EPCs a catalyst for energy renovations and transforming them into a reliable asset benefiting policymakers, public authorities and end users (building owners, tenants, utilities, developers, financial institutions and other users). The recommendations proposed by X-tendo emphasise that better coverage of the building stock with EPCs is a precondition for their improvement, but at the same time Member States would need to ensure that they are affordable and accessible. To accelerate energy renovations, the next-generation EPC must provide its end-users with improved and actionable information. Building characteristics, such as smartness, metered energy consumption, indoor environmental quality or the interaction with the district energy system, are insufficiently covered in current EPC schemes.
The Next Generation Energy Performance Certificates cluster of sister projects gathers 13 projects that started their activities in 4 successive generations ( 2019: QualDeEPC, U-CERT & X-tendo; 2020: D^2EPC, E-DYCE, ePANACEA, EPC RECAST; 2021: crossCert, EUB Super Hub, iBRoad2EPC, TIMEPAC; 2022: CHRONICLE, SmartLivingEPC). The Projects in the Next Gen EPC cluster are continuously cooperating with each other, share results and organise common events to maximize quality, relevance, utility and effectiveness while avoiding reinventing the wheel and ensure a coordinated and convergent approach.