Delivering nearly zero energy

The European Commision has set strict targets for the energy standard required for buildings. By the end of 2020, all new builds in EU member states, which includes the UK, will be required to comply with the ‘nearly-zero energy’ standards.

The new directive, named Directive 2010/31/EU, has been set out to increase the the energy efficiency of EU buildings. The remaining very low energy demand of the so-called ‘nearly-zero energy’ buildings should then be covered to a large extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy produced on-site or nearby.

Member states are already working towards a quick implementation of the Directive by introducing market incentives and removing market barriers. National reports and plans of how the respective countries calculate the cost-optimal levels of minimum energy performance requirements, which will form the basis of the local nearly-zero energy efficiency targets, are being submitted to the European Commission. Unsurprisingly, the approaches taken on national levels vary, leading to higher or lower energy efficiency goals and legislations – mainly depending on the assumptions used for the cost-effectiveness assessment and on the parameters used as efficiency indicators.

The role of Passivhaus in zero-carbon

The long-established Passivhaus Standard provides a solution, which is in perfect agreement with the requirements set by the EU commission’s Directive. From the very beginning, in the 1990s, the Standard was defined as an energy efficiency performance level equivalent to the economic optimum over a building’s lifetime. As a definition for the ‘nearly-zero energy building standard, the Passivhaus Institute therefore puts forward the following proposal:

“A nearly zero-energy building is one that offers the best economic performance in terms of investment, energy, and capital costs under local climate conditions. The energy balance comprises overall energy demand for heat, hot water, and all electricity consumption along with renewable energy produced locally.”

This article, including the image, has been adapted from an article published in Building4Change.