Public Law

EPBD amended to include ambitious new targets for the building sector

The amendment to Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (“EPBD”) has finally been adopted. Approved by the Council of the European Union on 12 April 2024, the amendment fundamentally revises the 2010 Directive, bringing it into line with the EU’s climate protection targets through stricter energy performance standards for buildings. Member States now have two years in which to transpose the amendment into national law. Building owners and asset managers will then find themselves subject to increased requirements for the energy performance of buildings. 

Objectives of the amended Directive

The Commission initiated a revision of the EPBD, which was last amended as recently as 2018, as part of the EU’s “Fit for 55” legislative package. Buildings sector energy use accounts for around 40% of the EU’s greenhouse gases and has an important role to play in the EU achieving its climate protection targets. The previous version of the Directive contained very few stipulations on the energy efficiency of buildings, leaving this largely up to the Member States. As a result, the annual EU-wide energy renovation rate for existing buildings has been below 1% in recent years. The number of renovated buildings per year must increase significantly for the EU to achieve its goal of climate neutrality by 2050. As such, the amendment also serves to help implement the Renovation Wave Strategy adopted as part of the European Green Deal, which aims to double the energy renovation rate of buildings by 2030.

The new provisions contain a large number of measures to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and promote the renovation of existing buildings in Member States. Their focus is on buildings with the worst energy performance. The main goals are for all new buildings to be zero-emission by 2030 at the latest and for existing buildings to become zero-emission by 2050. 

Minimum requirements for energy performance 

One of the most important changes to the Directive is the introduction of minimum energy performance standards (“MEPS”). Unlike in earlier drafts of the amendment, these apply to non-residential buildings only. Article 9(1) provides that Member States must establish MEPS in the form of a maximum primary or final energy use to be met by all non-residential buildings by a specified date. The MEPS are to be set so as to ensure that 16% of buildings with the poorest energy efficiency are renovated by 2030 and 26% by 2033. Whilst exceptions can be made where there is an unfavourable cost-benefit ratio or other hardship, this is effectively a de facto renovation order for non-residential buildings that must be transposed into national law. 

Member States have greater room for manoeuvre when it comes to the renovation targets for residential buildings. Pursuant to Article 9(2), Member States must establish national trajectories to ensure a 16% decrease in energy consumption by residential building stock by 2030 and a 20-22% decrease by 2035, with at least 55% of the decrease to be achieved by renovating the worst-performing residential buildings. However, even if MEPS do not apply to residential buildings and Member States therefore have somewhat more flexibility in implementing the targets, the outcome will also depend on renovating those residential buildings with the poorest energy efficiency.

Member States may exempt certain types of buildings from both MEPS and renovation targets (e.g. historic buildings, holiday homes, military buildings and industrial sites).

Energy performance classes, energy performance certificates and renovation passports

Energy performance classes are to be harmonised across the EU to ensure uniform implementation of the Directive’s requirements. Member States must introduce energy efficiency classes on a scale from A to G (with an optional class A+). Only zero-emission buildings may be included in class A, and the remaining buildings are to be distributed appropriately among classes B to F. Class G is to include only the very worst-performing buildings in the national building stock when the scale is introduced. 

The obligation to issue energy performance certificates has also been broadened. An energy performance certificate must now be issued not only for new builds, sales or rentals, but also for the renewal of rental contracts, major renovations, and buildings owned or used by public bodies. 

Building owners will be supported in renovation projects through voluntary renovation passports. Renovation passports will be issued by certified experts and contain a roadmap for step-by-step renovation measures as well as information on financing options and the benefits of energy-efficient renovations.

Zero-emission: the standard for new buildings

The zero-emission building is replacing the nearly zero-energy building as the standard for new buildings. Zero-emission buildings are buildings whose energy demands are met entirely by renewable energies. As from 1 January 2028, this standard will apply to new buildings owned by public bodies, and from 1 January 2030 it will apply to all other new buildings. Prior to these dates, all new buildings should at least be nearly zero-energy. 

Starting on 1 January 2028, the energy performance certificate for newly constructed buildings with a usable floor area of more than 1,000 m2 will have to state the life-cycle Global Warming Potential (GWP); for all other newly constructed buildings, this obligation will apply from 1 January 2030. In addition, Member States will need to set limits for the maximum life-cycle GWP, which new buildings will have to comply with from 2030. 

Switch to renewable energies

The new EPBD does not ban fossil-fuel heating systems outright, whereas the draft version had envisaged an end to fossil-fuel heating systems by 2044. Now, Member States merely have to strive to replace fossil fuel boilers in accordance with their respective national phase-out plan; for Germany, this means in accordance with the requirements in sections 71 et seq. Buildings Energy Act (Gebäudeenergiegesetz). As from 1 January 2025, however, Member States will have to discontinue any financial incentives for the installation of stand-alone fossil fuel boilers. As from 1 January 2030, new buildings will in any case have to be heated entirely by renewable energies to qualify as zero-emission buildings.

At the same time, the use of solar installations will be increased: In future, new buildings will need to be “solar-ready”, i.e. suitable for the installation of solar technologies. Solar energy installations must be gradually installed on existing buildings, provided this is technically suitable and economically and functionally feasible. The Directive provides for a staggered timeline from 2026 to 2030, according to which public buildings, non-residential buildings, residential buildings and roofed car parks will be equipped with solar installations depending on their floor area. 

Infrastructure for sustainable mobility and inclusive design

The existing measures to promote sustainable mobility solutions will be scaled up. The number of pre-cabled parking spaces and the number of recharging points required will be increased for both residential and non-residential buildings. In fact, the requirements already apply to non-residential buildings with five or more car parking spaces and residential buildings with three or more car parking spaces.

In addition to regulations for new and renovated buildings, the Directive now includes a requirement for existing buildings. By 1 January 2027, it states, all non-residential buildings with more than 20 car parking spaces must either provide pre-cabling for at least 50% of their parking spaces or at least one recharging point for every ten parking spaces. Requirements for bicycle parking spaces, including for cargo bikes, are also introduced.

Building technology

Finally, the Directive specifies which building types must provide which kinds of technical building systems (including automatic temperature controls as well as measuring and control devices for monitoring and regulating indoor air quality). Existing non-residential buildings with a particularly high level of energy consumption (exceeding 290 kW) have to be retrofitted with building automation and control systems by 31 December 2024. New or renovated residential and non-residential buildings will also need to be equipped with certain measuring and control devices, provided this is technically, economically and functionally feasible.


Now that the amendments to the EPBD have come into force, it is up to the Member States to transpose the requirements into national law within two years of the Directive being published in the Official Journal of the European Union. In so doing, the Member States can also make the regulations stricter than those in the Directive, but they are not allowed to water them down. The Directive also retains a certain degree of flexibility with regard to the transposition, so it remains to be seen how the German legislator will implement the requirements of the EPBD into German law. However, the legislator does not have much room for manoeuvre apart from establishing the requirements for renovating residential building stock and setting the targets in the national building renovation plans. In the case of non-residential buildings, the German legislator will presumably have to put pressure on building owners to renovate their buildings so that the requirements of the Directive are complied with.