With the presentation of its Winter Package "Clean Energy for All Europeans" in November 2016, the European Commission signalled its aim of fully embracing energy efficiency, clean energy and a low-carbon community. The first directive, definitively adopted on 14 May 2018, is one in a series of eight new legislative initiatives that will be promulgated in the framework of the Winter Package. It amends Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings (the "Energy Performance of Buildings Directive"). The amended Directive also clearly expresses the goals of a low-carbon or even decarbonised European Union: the legislator intends to make buildings (more) energy efficient and to promote the renovation of buildings. The final aim of the Directive is clear: only decarbonised buildings in the European Union by 2050. 

To achieve the aim of decarbonised buildings by 2050, the amended Energy Performance of Buildings Directive imposes a number of obligations on the Member States of the European Union. Concretely, Member States have to establish a long-term renovation strategy. They must aim to renovate both public and private buildings to make them energy-efficient and decarbonised. In the framework of their renovation strategy, the Member States must create a road map (with milestones in 2030, 2040 and 2050) with measures and domestically established measurable progress indicators.

Under the Directive, Member States must provide a requirement in their national legislation that new non-residential buildings and non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation which have more than ten parking spaces must have the appropriate facilities for electric vehicles (EVs). However, Member States may decide not to lay down or apply this obligation in relation to small and medium-sized enterprises. The appropriate facilities are: 

  • at least one recharging point; and
  • ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric cables, for at least one in every five parking spaces, to enable the installation at a later stage of recharging points for electric vehicles.

Moreover, with regard to new residential buildings and residential buildings undergoing major renovation which have more than ten parking spaces, national legislation must ensure the installation of ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric cables, for every parking space, to enable the installation of additional recharging points. Here, too, Member States have the possibility of not making this obligation applicable in particular cases (e.g. where the cost of the recharging and ducting installations exceeds 7% of the total cost of the major renovation of the building).  

In general, the Directive obliges the Member States to take appropriate measures to simplify the deployment of recharging points for EVs by addressing possible regulatory barriers, including permitting and approval procedures.

In addition, the amended Energy Performance of Buildings Directive also provides for:

  • the obligation for the Member States to encourage the use of ICT and smart technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently;
  • the introduction of a so-called "smart readiness indicator" to measure the buildings' capacity to use new technologies;
  • a mix of public and private financing and investment; and
  • combatting of energy poverty and, at the same time, a reduction of household energy bills.

Within the next few weeks, the amendments to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union, and they will enter into force 20 days later. The Member States will then have 20 months to transpose the new provisions into national legislation.

It is clear that the European legislator is paving the way for electrification. Energy efficiency and a decarbonised building stock are noble objectives. However, it remains to be seen how (and how quickly) the competent Belgian legislators will transpose the new obligations into national legislation.