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The RE 2020 Climate and Energy Package Explained

July 27, 2020

The RE 2020 climate & energy package is a set of binding legislation to ensure the EU meets its climate and energy targets for the year 2030. The package sets three key targets:

·       20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)

·       20% of EU energy from renewables

·       20% improvement in energy efficiency

The text is still under discussion and will not be published until autumn 2020. This article aims to provide an overview of the information that prefigures the text and the avenues revealed. However, as long as the final publication has not yet been released, the contours of the text may still evolve .

The new regulation aims to better control the carbon impact over the entire life cycle of the building, on the one hand, by encouraging construction methods that emit low greenhouse gas emissions, and on the other hand, by promoting decarbonated energy sources. This regulation is thus in line with the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050, to which European countries committed themselves at the 2015 COP21 in Paris to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Over 50% of  CO2 emissions from a new building are emitted during the construction phase. The RE2020 will take into account the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings at all stages of their existence, from the origin of the materials used, through to construction and the operational phase, in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) logic.  This approach is pioneering in Europe and will open up new perspectives for circular economy and eco-design.

Following on from the RT 2012, the RE 2020 aims to be ambitious in terms of energy performance. This ambition is also consistent with the provisions of European Directive (EU) 2018/844, which aims for near-zero energy consumption for all new buildings from 2021 onwards. The objective is clear: to approach the Positive Energy Building and thusproduce energy. The 2020 BR, plans to introduce the presence of at least one primary renewable energy for self-consumption in newly constructed buildings. The nature and use of this energy is multifaceted: heat recovery, solar panels, for electricity, for domestic hot water, etc. The regulation is also stricter on the limit of energy needs, which is drastically reduced compared to the previous regulation, from 50 kWhep/m²/year to 12 kWhep/m²/year for heating. Insulation performance is put forward as the main lever for achieving such energy-saving operation.

As the leading greenhouse gas sector, the building industry must not only contribute to reducing carbon emissions, but also adapt to the effects of climate change and in particular to the predicted rise in temperatures. Warming that could increase in urban areas during the summer months, due to the effect of heat islands.Sustainable construction cannot be limited to the single phase of building use, but must also include consideration of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life cycle of the building. To achieve this, the 2020 ER would impose a maximum threshold of greenhouse gas emissions to be respected in the design, based on a life cycle analysis taking into account the materials, the construction phase, the energy intensity of use and the end of life. For the construction industry, which until then had no carbon regulations in the broadest sense, this is a major step forward.

The methods for calculating energy-related carbon emissions will be changed in this new regulation. In particular, the theoretical carbon emission ratio for heating electricity should be lowered to a value of 79 gCO2/kWh (compared to 210 gCO2/kWh in the E+C- experiment). Similarly, the conversion coefficient of final energy to primary energy of electricity would be lowered to 2.3 as opposed to 2.58 previously. These changes should lead to an increase in the use of electric heating in the design of projects.

The thresholds will probably be refined since consultations with professionals in the sector are still ongoing in the various European countries. The EU is reflecting on the challenges of mitigation and adaptation to climate change and should establish a reference system enabling financial actors to identify and promote the most energy-efficient buildings. RE 2020 sets the objective of energy neutrality for new buildings, compliant new buildings could then be classified as "green" on the financial markets according to the European taxonomy.

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About the author
Othmane Zrikem
Senior Advisor & Venture Partner

Othmane Zrikem is a Moroccan-French Data Science & Digital technologist. He is the Chief Data Officer and a founding member of A/O, where he designs and executes innovative investment strategies combining data-driven methodologies and financial engineering.

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