A European Green Deal: The EU’s Commitment to a Carbon Neutral Continent
Europe is facing an existential threat from climate change and environmental degradation. To address this, the European Green Deal aims to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy. In March 2023, the European Parliament approved a package of regulations proposed by the European Union aimed at promoting the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of new highly energy-efficient buildings.
This package of regulations for energy-efficient buildings and retrofits of existing properties, aims to improve sustainability of real estate assets in Europe, including Italy, over the next twenty years.
A Move Towards Energy-Efficient Buildings
Buildings in the EU territory are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Parliament aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050. To reach this goal, the EU will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat climate change, and decrease the EU’s reliance on fossil fuel imports.
Design of Energy-Efficient Buildings
From January 1st, 2021, building design regulations require both public and private buildings to adhere to nearly zero energy consumption (nZEB), in compliance with Art. 5 of D.L. 63/2013, converted into Law no. 90/2013.
nZEB buildings consume minimal energy, owing to their energy-efficient building envelope and the use of predominantly renewable energy sources.
A building envelope is the physical barrier between the interior and exterior of a building. It includes all the components that make up the outer shell of a building, such as walls, roofs, floors, doors, windows, and insulation. The building envelope plays a critical role in regulating the indoor environment, including the control of heat, light, and sound, as well as the protection against moisture, air infiltration, and environmental elements such as wind and rain. The design and construction of the building envelope are therefore crucial to ensuring the energy efficiency and sustainability of a building.
Energy Classes and Retrofits
Buildings, including residential and non-residential ones, with certain exceptions, must achieve specific energy classes according to the European Directive. The proposed deadlines of 2030 and 2033 to reach energy class E and D, respectively, are fast approaching.
To comply with the EU’s requirements for energy-efficient buildings, it is crucial to understand the retrofitting works that can improve a property’s energy class and its actual energy demand.
The Italian Legal Framework for Energy-Efficient Buildings
The European Directive is not directly binding and applicable in individual member states. However, Italy has a legal framework that already provides for energy retrofitting, including tax incentives and subsidized financing.
The Italian government has put forward various measures to encourage the transition to a low-carbon economy, including the National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) and the Building Decree (DM 01/2021). These initiatives aim to encourage the spread of high energy efficiency standards and low environmental impact.
The Importance of Energy Retrofitting
The European Directive on energy efficiency in buildings sets ambitious targets for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
To achieve these targets, significant investment in energy retrofitting is necessary, which upgrades the energy performance of existing buildings through measures such as insulation, window and door replacement, heating and cooling system upgrades, and installing renewable energy technologies like solar panels.
Energy retrofitting of existing property plays a crucial role in reducing the environmental impact of buildings, which are responsible for a significant share of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union.
Benefits of Energy Retrofitting
Energy retrofitting offers a range of benefits, both for building owners and for society as a whole. For building owners, energy retrofitting can lead to lower energy bills, increased comfort and wellbeing, and higher property values.
For society as a whole, energy retrofitting can help to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, reduce energy imports, improve energy security, and reduce air pollution.
In addition, energy retrofitting can contribute to the development of smart cities and communities, which use digital technologies and innovative solutions to optimize energy use and reduce emissions. Smart cities and communities can help to create more livable and sustainable urban environments, while also providing opportunities for innovation and economic development.
Challenges of Energy Retrofitting
While energy retrofitting offers numerous advantages, it also poses notable challenges, particularly when it comes to older buildings. These structures were not initially designed with energy efficiency in mind. This can make retrofitting a difficult and expensive process. Furthermore, retrofitting can be disruptive to occupants, and may entail alterations to the building’s appearance or layout, making it a complex undertaking.
To overcome these challenges, it is important to work with experienced professionals who can help to identify the most effective retrofitting strategies and technologies for each building. This may involve a combination of technical, financial, and legal expertise, as well as close collaboration with building owners, occupants, and other stakeholders.
De Tullio Law Firm is your reliable reference if you own or plan to invest in Italian property. We can guide you in understanding the challenges of the real estate market and compliance with regulations.
With our support, you can invest in the Italian real estate market with confidence and security. Get in touch with us.