Rethinking efficiency in buildings

  • Efficient buildings save the day

    It’s time to awake a sleeping giant. The new study from Ecofys shows that Europe holds an enormous potential in its buildings when it comes to energy savings. We can unlock the opportunities hidden behind concrete, glass and steel - and make massive savings, jobs and better places to live for ourselves.


    Read more about building efficiency 
    Read the report summary
    Read full report 

  • The simple truth about our buildings

    We spend most of our time in buildings – working shopping, learning, sleeping. It’s not surprising, therefore, that these buildings consume a lot of energy.

    Most of this is used to heating, cooling and ventilation, through technologies known as technical building systems. If these are incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or managed inefficiently, then the whole building, and its occupants, can suffer as a result. 

    It doesn’t need to be this way.  Simple improvements could help reduce energy waste, cut costs, and make our buildings healthier, more comfortable and more productive places to be.

  • of total EU energy consumption used to heat and cool our buildings

    of the EU’s carbon emissions comes from buildings

    of an average household’s energy bill spent on heating and cooling

    spent by EU citizens on space and water heating per year

    people in the EU struggle to heat their homes

    EU citizens living in buildings with hazardous concentrations of pollutants due to inefficient ventilation

  • The central nervous system of our buildings

    There are technologies available that have been proven to make our buildings and the systems within them more efficient, yet they are still missing in most buildings.

    Optimizing technical building systems not only makes building environments more efficient, it empowers building users to better understand their environment – proactively managing their energy usage and maintaining a healthy, comfortable and productive living environment, adjusted to their liking.

    The cost for these technologies is low and they can be easily retrofitted in buildings, while the energy and cost saving benefits can be remarkable.

  • Space heating
    Individual room controls; automatic hydronic balancing; speed-controlled pumps

    Hot water
    Automatic thermal balancing

    Air conditioning
    Individual room controls; speed-controlled compressors

    Variable demand control

  • Cutting waste and engineering wellbeing for millions of Europeans

    The solutions used will change for different building types, but the core principles of reducing waste, cutting cost and improving the environment for the users remain the same. Explore our case studies.
  • Achieving bold energy ambitions with simple and reliable solutions

    Achieving the EU’s transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050 requires the full decarbonization of our buildings.
    With the current 1% renovation rate for existing building stock, neither the EU 2030 energy efficiency target nor the 2050 decarbonization target will be achieved.
    There is a clear need to accelerate the modernization of existing building stock. To achieve this, we need to ensure that technical building systems are operating at maximum efficiency.

    The benefits of rethinking our approach to building efficiency

  • For consumers

    • Reduces energy bills
    • Improves comfort, health, wellbeing and  productivity
    • Pays back quickly

    For towns and municipalities

    • Significantly lowers CO2 emissions
    • Helps to fight fuel poverty
    • Enables smart energy systems

    For property owners, engineers and consultants

    • Proven, easy-to-implement technology
    • Builds a business case for energy efficiency
    • Increases property value and reduces complaints

    For the EU and EU member states

    • Country and EU-wide reduction in CO2 emissions
    • Helps achieve ambitious climate targets
    • Reduces energy imports and strengthens security of supply

  • Putting Europe on a fast-track to highly efficient, connected buildings

    Now is the time to act

    The review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) presents an unmissable opportunity to accelerate the optimization of technical building systems. This is most cost-effective pathway towards achieving our targets.

    The key measures to make it happen:
  • 1. Enforcement of existing requirements

    • Enforcement of existing provisions such as Article 8 of the current EPBD.
    • Guidance for member states on implementation of the EPBD, supported by best practice examples for different building types.
    • The enforcement should be simplified by adopting at least binding requirements on key functionalities.

    2. Smartness indicator

    • They should also embrace the use of existing tools, such as the building renovation passport or the new smartness indicator, to stimulate market uptake.
    • Assess and document the energy performance of technical building systems to increase awareness of possible efficiency gains and drive demand.

    3. Consistent terminology

    • Greater consistency is needed around the terminology used by the European Commission to avoid indecision and uncertainty among investors and users. 
    • Clarified requirements should be introduced for key functionalities to encourage implementation of the EPBD in member states.

    4. Harmonization of standards

    • Regulation, standards and testing need to focus on system performance, in addition to looking at individual products, and should be more explicit about the energy performance requirements for technical building systems and the key functionalities.
    • Member states need to track progress via a collection of data at national level on the state of technical building system in existing buildings.

    5. Clarity around the deep renovation journey

    • Member states must include optimization of technical building systems in their national renovation and staged deep renovation strategies. 
    • To achieve this, the European Commission and the EPBD should provide a clear, comprehensive ranking of all available measures based on a) how fast they can deliver cost and carbon savings and b) how effectively they will facilitate the implementation of subsequent measures. 
    • The European Commission also needs to highlight the role of control systems in balancing the minimized energy losses, the internal gains and the remaining energy needs for nearly zero energy buildings (nZEB’s).

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