The following definition of the European Directive is taken from and the full PDF of the Directive is available there in PDF format at Directive 2010/31/EU (EPBD recast).


Article 9 requires that “Member States shall ensure that by 31 December 2020 all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings; and after 31 December 2018, new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are nearly zero-energy buildings”. Member States shall furthermore “draw up national plans for increasing the number of nearly zero-energy buildings” and “following the leading example of the public sector, develop policies and take measures such as the setting of targets in order to stimulate the transformation of buildings that are refurbished into nearly zero-energy buildings”.

A nearly zero-energy building is defined in Article 2of the EPBD recast as “a building that has a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby”.

The impact of this European Directive is that by 2020, all new buildings are going to be nearly zero-energy. In practice, this means that the buildings will be so energy-efficient, that they require very little energy to heat or cool, and what energy is needed with be produced locally or on-site be renewables.

By 2018 this will apply to new buildings in use by all public bodies.

This means that in the next 2 to 4 years, non-domestic buildings are going to undergo the sea-change in design and construction that has already taken place in the residential sector. And many of the solutions are going to be the same. The PassivHaus standard is not just for domestic buildings, as it is a comfort/energy performance standard rather than a prescribed buildings system and can be achieved in many ways, as long as the results are the same.

Clients are already choosing to build to this standard, because they wish to future-proof the value of their investment, so that in 5 years it has not become obsolete. High profile tenants are already excluding poorly designed buildings from their consideration, because the environmental performance does not match their corporate image.

Skanska, one of Europe’s largest speculative commerical developers, reported at the IGBC conference that they for years have only been producing low-energy buildings, and that in London, low-energy buildings demand a substantial rent premium, as the market has matured to value low-energy costs.

So, if you are procuring an office, factory or retail building and want to optimise cost over its lifetime, and want to support its asset value over time, think PassivHaus, think Zero-Energy, and call the PassivHaus Architecture Company for quality design services.