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European Union reaches agreement on major building renovation plan

Apartment blocks in Tallinn.
Apartment blocks in Tallinn.

The revised directive sets new and more ambitious energy performance requirements for buildings in the EU. The aim is to encourage property owners to renovate their buildings. By 2050, buildings in the EU should be all zero-emission buildings.

The revision of the directive sets up new, more ambitious energy efficiency standards for new and renovated buildings in the EU.

The aim is to encourage property owners across the EU to renovate their buildings. By 2050, buildings in the EU should be all zero-emission buildings.

The climate ministry does not have any precise information at the moment on what is in the agreement.

The entire text of the law is not yet ready, Veronika Valk-Siska, head of the housing sector at the Ministry of Climate, told ERR. "The directive is very long and it will take time for the technical teams in Parliament, Council and Commission to finalize the precise legal text.

In its current form, the European Commission's proposal would require the Estonian state to pay two to three billion euros, plus the owners' co-financing, ERR reported last spring. The agreement did not reduce the amounts needed. "Billions of euros of investment still needed and thousands of buildings to be renovated," Valk-Siska said.

Why is this necessary?

Buildings account for 40 percent of final energy consumption in the EU and 36 percent of its energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a huge potential for cuts: almost 75 percent of existing buildings are inefficient in terms of energy and will require energy renovation on a large scale.

The decrease in the consumption of energy paired with more renewable energy sources will guarantee fewer emissions.

What will change first?

New buildings owned by public bodies will have to be zero-emission as of 2028, and as of 2023 all new buildings will have to be zero-emission.

Existing buildings

Member states will set up a maximum amount of energy that buildings could use per m2 annually, based on total building stock in 2020.

All non-residential buildings will have to have energy consumption lower than 16 percent of the worst performing buildings by 2030 and lower than 26 percent of the worst performing buildings bu 2033.

The average primary energy use of all residential buildings should decrease by at least 16 percent by 2030, 20-22 percent by 2035 and 55 percent of the energy reduction will have to be achieved through renovation of the worst performing buildings.

As of 2050, all buildings should be transformed into zero-emission buildings.


  • historical buildings
  • places of worship and buildings used for religious activities
  • stand-alone buildings smaller than 50m2
  • summer cottages and residential buildings with limited time use and reduced energy consumption
  • buildings owned by the armed forces and used for defense purposes
  • industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings

Greener energy for buildings

Solar energy installations must be installed, if technically suitable and economically and functionally feasible, on all new public and non-residential buildings with useful floor area over 250 m2 as of 2027.

As of 2030 all new residential buildings, all new roofed carparks next to the buildings, and as of 2031, all existing public buildings with useful floor area larger than 250 m2 will have to have solar panels installed.

More infrastructure for bikes and electric cars

New buildings and buildings following major renovation should have:

  • more recharging points
  • infrastructure in place for an increased number of recharging points in the future
  • more parking places for bicycles

The EU incentives will encourage renovations with both financial measures and administrative support.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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