In the EU, 40% of all energy consumption comes from buildings.  To try and tackle this, on 3 December 2015, 16 leading EU companies committed at the Paris Climate Change meeting (COP 21) to help deliver "nearly zero energy buildings" (nZEB) standards for new builds by 2020, and for refurbished buildings by 2030. Signatories to this commitment included British Land, Ferrovial, GlaxoSmithKline, Hammerson, Heathrow, Kingfisher, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group, Philips, Skanska and Tesco.  

Article 9 of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010 sets targets for buildings to be nearly zero-energy and requires Member States to ensure that:

  • all new buildings are nearly zero-energy or very low energy need buildings by 31 December 2020.  (The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a significant extent by energy from renewable sources)

  • new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are nearly zero-energy buildings after 31 December 2018

  • In parallel to requirements for new buildings, Member States should put in place supporting policies to stimulate the refurbishment of existing building stocks towards nearly zero-energy levels.

On 2nd August, the European Commission published recommendations and guidelines for the promotion of nZEB and best practices to ensure that by 2020, all new buildings  meet nZEB standards. 

The recitals to the recommendations explain that the European  Commission wishes to speed up progress by Member States to meet the Article 9 targets. They also state that the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010 is under review, including assessing whether additional measures for nearly zero-energy buildings will be needed.

Member States are required to follow the guidelines provided in the Annex to the recommendations, in order to help them:

  • meet the nearly zero-energy buildings targets

  • develop national plans for increasing the number of nearly zero-energy buildings

  • Further detail can be found at

    In light of this latest guidance, the principles for nZEB look set to become the norm for buildings after 2020, particularly as the commitment to nZEB has the backing of a number of large companies.  However, whilst the UK has signed up to the Paris global agreement on climate change to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees, as with anything relating to the EU post-Brexit, it is now unclear whether the UK will follow in the footsteps of its European counterparts in implementing the latest EU recommendations and take on the nZEB targets.