Press Release – Energy Performance of Buildings Directive adopted: Buildings’ full environmental impact now to be addressed 

Publish date: March 12, 2024

Today, the European Parliament endorsed the agreement on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive which aims to decarbonise the EU’s building stock by 2050. Even though the directive takes a step in the right direction, the advances fall short of Bellona’s expectations. 

Bellona welcomes the new definition of Whole-Life Carbon (WLC) as well as Life-Cycle Global Warming Potential (GWP), as it acknowledges the full scope of carbon emissions and provides a common understanding for accurate measurement of climate impact. The Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) is a step in the right direction, albeit a smaller step than hoped for and smaller than both the Commission and the European Parliament had suggested.  

«The inclusion of Whole Life Carbon is a much-needed signal that decarbonising buildings is just as much about improving their energy performance as it is about decarbonizing the materials that go into them.»

Frauke Eustermann

Policy Manager Sustainable Construction Industry

We value the requirement for Member States to calculate and publish the life-cycle GWP through the building’s energy performance certificate (EPC), as this could spark renovations that not only increase energy efficiency, but also help reduce full life cycle carbon emissions, thereby also including emissions occurring from the construction of the buildings and the production of building materials. Publishing the life-cycle GWP represents a significant step by the EU in recognising the importance of decarbonisation of construction materials which is a needed push that cannot be overlooked next to establishing energy efficiency. However, the level of ambition for zero-emission buildings (ZEB) is low – instead of all new buildings being zero-emission buildings by 2030, the Member States should ensure that new buildings are ZEB from 2026 for public buildings and from 2028 for all other buildings​. 

The need for Member States to draw up National Building Renovation Plans (NBRPs) places a significant responsibility on national authorities to show the way and adopt climate reduction pathways towards the MEPS targets, limits values for life cycle GWP and ultimately a decarbonised building stock. These national plans must offer concrete solutions for overcoming obstacles such as funding shortages, skills needs and recruitment challenges in the industry. While the consequences for failing to deliver are uncertain, the plans will undoubtedly be important in sending the necessary signal to businesses and consumers. 

«The directive is a step in the right direction, but it overlooks a key opportunity to phase-out fossil fuels in the building sector.»

Kirke Siimso

Policy Assistant, Green buildings

Despite the mention of phasing out fossil fuels in the preambles of the text, there must be a stronger push to eliminate fossil fuels and any form of gas-based heating from buildings by the end of this decade. Bellona has called for this in an open letter to the European Parliament, in March 2023, alongside 11 other organisations, and urges Member States to take up this recommendation when implementing the directive. 


Buildings account for 40% of the energy consumption in the EU and 36% of its energy-related greenhouse gas emissions while 75 % of Union buildings are still energy-inefficient. Natural gas plays the largest role in the heating of buildings, accounting for around 39% of energy consumption used for space heating in the residential sector. Oil is the second most important fossil fuel for heating, accounting for 11% and coal accounts for around 3%. At the same time, construction material production globally amounted to 12.7 Gt CO₂ in 2020, including the energy used to produce them, which is a quarter of total emissions in 2020. 

Therefore, acting on the energy efficiency of buildings is key to saving energy, increasing the quality of housing, and achieving a zero-emission and fully decarbonised building stock by 2050. The new energy goals will also increase the rate of renovation, particularly for the worst-performing buildings in each country. Consequently, energy efficiency of buildings is crucial for both the environment and the society. 

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