Energy performance of buildings

Energy performance of buildings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Energy performance of buildings


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Energy efficiency

Energy performance of buildings

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings.


This Directive aims to promote the energy performance of buildings * and building units.

Methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings

Member States shall adopt, either at national or regional level, a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings which takes into account certain elements, specifically:

  • the thermal characteristics of a building (thermal capacity, insulation, etc.);
  • heating insulation and hot water supply;
  • the air-conditioning installation;
  • the built-in lighting installation;
  • indoor climatic conditions.

The positive influence of other aspects such as local solar exposure, natural lighting, electricity produced by cogeneration and district or block heating or cooling systems are also taken into account.

Setting minimum requirements

Member States shall put in place, in compliance with the aforementioned calculation methodology, minimum requirements for energy performance in order to achieve cost-optimal levels. The level of these requirements is reviewed every 5 years.

When setting requirements, Member States may differentiate between new and existing buildings and between different categories of buildings.

New buildings shall comply with these 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 cogeneration systems.

When undergoing major renovation, existing buildings shall have their energy performance upgraded so that they also satisfy the minimum requirements.

The following may be exempt from the application of the minimum requirements:

  • officially protected buildings (for example, historic buildings);
  • buildings used as places of worship;
  • temporary buildings;
  • residential buildings intended for a limited annual time of use;
  • stand-alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50 m2.

When new, replaced or upgraded technical building systems such as heating systems, hot water systems, air-conditioning systems and large ventilation systems are installed, they shall also comply with the energy performance requirements.

Building elements that form part of the building envelope and have a significant impact on the energy performance of that envelope (for example, window frames) shall also meet the minimum energy performance requirements when they are replaced or retrofitted, with a view to achieving cost-optimal levels.

This Directive strongly encourages the introduction of intelligent energy consumption metering systems whenever a building is constructed or undergoes renovation, pursuant to the Directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity.

Objective: Nearly zero-energy buildings

By 31 December 2020, all new buildings shall be nearly zero-energy consumption buildings. New buildings occupied and owned by public authorities shall comply with the same criteria by 31 December 2018.

The Commission encourages increasing the numbers of this type of building by putting in place national plans, which include:

  • the Member State’s application in practice of the definition of nearly zero-energy buildings;
  • the intermediate targets for improving the energy performance of new buildings by 2015;
  • information on the policies and financial measures adopted to encourage improving the energy performance of buildings.

Financial incentives and market barriers

Member States shall draw up a list of the existing and potential instruments used to promote improvements in the energy performance of buildings. This list is to be updated every three years.

Energy performance certificates

Member States shall implement a system for the energy performance certification of buildings. It shall include information on the energy performance of a building and recommendations for cost improvements.

When a building or building unit is offered for sale or for rent, the energy performance indicator of the energy performance certificate shall be included in advertisements in commercial media.

When buildings or building units 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 new tenant.

With regard to buildings where a total floor area of over 500 m² is occupied by a public authority and buildings with a total floor area of over 500 m² which are frequently visited by the public, the energy performance certificate shall be displayed in a prominent place and be clearly visible (this threshold shall be lowered to 250 m² on 9 July 2015).

Member States are responsible for putting in place a system of regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems in buildings.

This Directive repeals Directive 2002/91/EC.

Key terms of the Act
  • Energy performance of a building: the calculated or measured amount of energy needed to meet the energy demand associated with a typical use of the building, which includes energy used for heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and lighting.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2010/31/EU



OJ L 153 of 18.6.2010

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