The European Council announced on April 12, 2024, the official adoption of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) across the European Union (EU), aiming to reduce energy consumption and emissions from buildings throughout the EU, including targets for all new buildings to be zero-emission by 2030, and the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels in building heating systems by 2040.

Buildings are a significant source of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and are among the most challenging to transform due to their nature. According to the European Commission, buildings account for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of energy-related GHG emissions in the EU, with 80% of energy use in homes attributed to heating, cooling, and hot water.

With the approval of Member States, the final step in adopting the EPBD, which will now be signed and published in the Official Journal of the EU, indicates the new legislation’s enactment. Member States will be given two years to incorporate the new rules into their national legislation. The European Commission first proposed revising the directive in 2021, as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ roadmap aiming to reduce GHG emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Key provisions in the updated directive include the requirement for all new residential and non-residential buildings to achieve zero on-site emissions from fossil fuels by 2030. Additionally, public buildings are required to reach this milestone by 2028.

The updated rules also mandate Member States to establish measures for gradually phasing out fossil fuels in the heating and cooling of buildings, with the aim of completely eliminating fossil-fuel-operated boilers by 2040. By 2050, the EPBD anticipates the EU’s building stock to transition to zero-emission buildings.

The EPBD also sets targets for gradually eliminating or improving buildings with the lowest performance. Member States are required to adopt a national roadmap to reduce energy use in residential buildings by 16% by 2030 and achieve a reduction of 20-22% by 2035, with at least 55% of the decrease achieved through the renovation of the worst-performing buildings. For non-residential buildings, 16% of the worst-performing buildings must be renovated by 2030, and 26% by 2033.

The revised EPBD also includes measures aimed at supporting a wave of building renovations. Member States are required to develop national building renovation plans to decarbonize building stocks and establish national building ‘renovation passports’ to guide building owners in the gradual renovation towards zero-emission buildings.

According to the EPBD, all new buildings must be compatible with solar energy; they must be capable of hosting rooftop photovoltaic or solar thermal installations.

It is anticipated that the EPBD will also facilitate the mobilization of additional financing and strengthen construction value chains.

The increase in the use of renewable energy sources in buildings has become a necessity for countries facing resource shortages and dependency on imports of fossil fuels. Rising energy prices and resource shortages make addressing insulation-related issues and ensuring energy efficiency mandatory in buildings.

While efforts are underway worldwide to address the growing energy consumption and depletion of natural resources due to increasing population and advancing technology, developments in legal regulations regarding energy efficiency, building energy performance, renewable energy systems, sustainability, and recycling have also been recorded in Turkey in recent years.

Strengthening efforts through legal regulations to eliminate energy consumption waste and increase renewable energy capacity in Turkey, along with raising awareness among citizens about energy efficiency measures and accessible financial resources, are crucial steps to be taken.