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A guidebook to European building policy – key legislation and initiatives

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Credits: BPIE

European building policy has been under development since the 1990s. Under the leadership of the European Commission building standards and policies have gradually improved, taking into account issues such as financing solutions, renewable energies, indoor environmental quality, and the alleviation of energy poverty. This document is intended to give the reader a sound overview of the key elements of European legislation with regards to building policy.

The guide focuses on the key EU legislation aimed at transforming and decarbonising the European building stock. This includes an overview of:


  • The Clean Energy Package for all Europeans – a comprehensive set of legislation that defines European climate and energy policy beyond 2020. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) cover the main issues regarding building policies on a European level.
  • A new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) was adopted in March 2020. It includes measures that will help stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy and encompasses the entire life cycle of products and key value chains, including construction and buildings.
  • EU energy product policy. Since 1994 the EU has been working on making products more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The Energy Labelling Directive aims at providing a clear and simple indication of the energy efficiency of products at the point of purchase. The Eco-Design Directive complements this by improving the environmental performance of products by setting mandatory energy efficiency standards and eliminating the least strongly performing products from the market.

The European legislation covers and connects a range of topics to support high performance and decarbonisation of the building stock. These include the calculation of the energy performance of buildings, energy performance certificates, metering of energy consumption and building automation, but also the split-incentive dilemma and the alleviation of energy poverty, which have a clear social impact.