On the 3rd of December 2019, the Belgian Bureau for Standardisation (NBN) and Agoria co-organised a workshop to explore possibilities for the implementation of the EPBD standards in the Belgian EPB methodology. The EPBD standards describe a methodology to determine the energy performance of a building. For new buildings this policy scheme is called EPB (PEB) in Belgium. For existing construction the scheme is called EPC in Flanders, la certification PEB in Wallonia and the EPB certificate in Brussels.


What are the EPB standards?

The EPB standards are a set of standards developed in 2007/2008 on the initiative of the European Commission. They were revised around  10 years later to support the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The objective of the standards is to bundle the European best practices around e.g. the EPB and the energy performance certificate (EPC, la certification PEB, the EPB certificate) and make them available to the Member States. A revision of the standards around 2017 provided insight into the national and regional options and the development of a spreadsheet for each standard. The next step is to see in which way the standards can be implemented within the EPB policy framework, which is currently different per Member State.

For more information about the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), click here.

Why this workshop?

There are currently two different domains, regulation and standardization, working towards the same goal; the shaping of energy performance methodologies. From a regulatory point of view these are for example EPB and EPC policy frameworks. In standardization this work is referred to as the development of EPB(D) standards. Regulation and standardization are different policy areas; each having their own processes and stakeholders. The workshop provided a state of affairs and an outline of the possibilities for implementation. The participants of the workshop included the representatives of the various parties active in the field of the EPB policy framework and the EPB standards, such as the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels administrations, the Scientific and Technical Centre for Construction (WTCB) and the University of Ghent (UGent).

EPBD standards in Belgian methodology (UGent, WTCB)

The workshop started with a presentation of the way standards are currently applied in the Belgian EPB  methodology. This included results of the Flemish subsidy project 'Next generation building energy assessment methods towards a carbon neutral building stock', which looks at how the Belgian methodology fits within the European EPB standards. After describing the way in which the EPBD standards are currently integrated into the Belgian methodology, the way in which a number of standards have been applied was also discussed in more detail.

In the current methodology, the EPB standards are systematically used as a source of knowledge for the optimisation of the methodology on an ad hoc basis. Over the past 4 years, the EPB consortium has received assignments for conducting studies, answering questions, providing software development support and providing general support. With every study assignment regarding a specific part of the methodology, the EPB standards are considered by default as a source of knowledge. This approach has grown historically for practical reasons as the timelines development of the EPB standards and the EPB methodology did not completely align.

Implementation of EPBD standards as a project (TNO)

In the Netherlands, the integration of the EPBD standards was tackled as a large-scale 'top-down' project with the objective to develop a completely new (Dutch) standard. The workshop included a presentation of the way this project was approached. It started with an assignment from the Ministry of Interior Affairs containing a number of principles from which it was not allowed to deviate; it was for example determined in advance that the methodology should be designed on a monthly basis.

A Programme Council was set up for the strategic management of the project. The main content was outlined by a Project Group. In addition, specialised (voluntary) experts provided advice via several task groups. These task forces were chaired by rapporteurs, who were also responsible for writing the standard text. The Dutch Bureau for Standardisation (NEN) has taken the role of project manager. For the development of a number of external tools, recording protocols and software implementation additional external specialists were called upon. A tight organization made it possible to deliver the new standard within three to four years.

Choice between hourly and monthly method (EPB Center)

The presentation of the Dutch case demonstrated that the choice between an hourly or monthly method is an important point of discussion in the implementation of the EPB standards. The need for a more detailed calculation method is greater when a building has a better energy performance due to a modified thermal balance. The EN ISO 52016-1 provides approaches for different time frequencies. The presentation during the workshop outlined the structure of methodology in the standard and how it connects to the development for more energy efficient buildings.

As a result of heat loss reduction, solar and internal heat gains take up a larger share in the thermal energy balance. In a monthly-based calculation method these are taken into account as correction factors. The greater the proportion of strongly fluctuating heat gains, the more difficult it becomes to accurately determine these correction factors. The EN ISO 52016-1 standard provides a methodology that allows for the hourly and monthly method to be applied simultaneously. Currently the possibilities for the implementation of the hourly method are being explored in at least three European countries.

Implementation in Europe (EPB Center)

The EPB Centre has been commissioned by the European Commission to support the Member States in the implementation of the EPB standards. Under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), all Member States are required to define their calculation methodology in accordance with Annex A of the ISO 52000-1, 52003-1, 52010-1, 52016-1 and 52018-1 standards. The deadline for this transposition is 10 March 2020. In Belgium, this assignment is carried out as a study (not as a standardization process) by two knowledge organizations, commissioned by the Flemish Administration in collaboration with the Walloon and Brussels-Capital Regions.

In addition, a number of countries are working on further implementation. For example, a number of countries, such as Italy and Croatia, are working on proposals to improve EPB standards. A number of countries, such as the Netherlands, are in the process of transposing the EPB standards into national methodology. A number of other countries have chosen to implement parts of the methodology. Finally, a number of countries are looking into the possibility of implementing the hourly method.

Activities around knowledge enhancement standards (Rehva)

The workshop concluded with a brief overview of a number of ongoing European projects on increasing the knowledge and application of the EPBD standards by the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (Rehva). The projects each have their own focus:

Alliance of Deep Renovation in Buildings (ALDREN)

This project investigates the potential of certification, such as the EPC, la certification PEB and the EPB certificate, for stimulating energy renovations of non-residential buildings. The project also includes non-energy aspects such as health, comfort and financial benefits based on the standard for evaluation criteria for buildings (EN 16798-1): 2019).

CEN EPB certified standard experts (CEN-CE)

This project foresees a European training programme based on the EPBD standards. The intention is to introduce more experts to the content available in the EPBD standards. The focus within the project is on CEN/TC228 (heating and cooling) and CEN/TC371 (overarching project group).

User-Centered Energy Performance Assessment and Certification (U-CERT)

This project focuses on improving the understanding of the energy performance of a building based on measured data as proposed in the EPBD standards. The Smart Readiness Indicator (SRI) supports in the data collection. The ultimate goal is to arrive at an online database, which provides input to the national EPC databases.

Conclusion

The workshop demonstrated two different ways in which the implementation of the EPB standards can be tackled; through a large-scale top-down project or ad hoc gradual adaptation. The question is which approach is the most optimal for the Belgian situation; this depends, among other things, on the (political) support. Also to keep in mind is the time needed for such a project; the Dutch project was carried out on the basis of a pre-defined assignment of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. In Belgium, such an assignment would first need to be developed and it would have to be determined who takes the lead.

The discussion showed that a clear added value in solving questions about the current methodology is an important condition for a successful implementation of the standards; the biggest need at this moment lies in simplification of the methodology and accelerating the integration of innovation. To this end, the role of the hourly method in combination with the monthly method needs to be further investigated.  Another important step to allow (interested) stakeholders to participate in the development of solutions is the realisation of more transparency in the methodology. For example, this could be realised through a single description of how the methodology has been developed and how the standards have been applied, similar to the NTA 8800.

Next Steps

Several participants indicated that they would like to further discuss the lessons learned and see how they can be followed-up. For example, Agoria's position was discussed during the Building Technology Committee 2.0 meeting on 11 December. Feedback on the workshop was also discussed during the E371 meeting on 18 December. No concrete follow-up actions have yet been defined.

Relevant links