On December 3rd, 2019, the Belgian Bureau for Standardisation (NBN) and Agoria brought around 25 experts together with representatives of the three regions to discuss possibilities for the implementation of the EPB standards. Presentations by Ghent University, the Belgian knowledge centre for construction BBRI, the European knowledge centre EPB Center, the Dutch research centre TNO and the European HVAC federation REHVA resulted in a number of  lively discussions.


On December 3rd, 2019, the Belgian Bureau for Standardisation (NBN) and Agoria brought around 25 experts together with representatives of the three regions to discuss possibilities for the implementation of the EPBD standards. These standards describe the methodology through which the energy efficiency of a building can be determined. Presentations by Ghent University, the Belgian knowledge centre for construction BBRI, the European knowledge centre EPB Center, the Dutch research centre TNO and the European HVAC federation REHVA resulted in a number of  lively discussions.

“There are more similarities between the EPB standards and the Belgian EPB methodology than often thought. The basis principles are the same and in recent years the standards have been included as an important source of inspiration in study assignments.” Peter D’Herdt – Head of Lighting Lab (BBRI)

Large-scale revision project or not?

The discussion in the workshop revealed a central question as to how the implementation of the EPBD standards should be tackled; does this require a large-scale project or is this better organised through a step-by-step adaptation of the current methodology? The approach taken by the Netherlands of a large-scale revision in 4 years shows that this is certainly possible in a relatively short period of time. This does, however, require a centralised project organisation, clear terms of reference and sufficient budget. In Belgium the government is looking more for specific solutions to simplify the preparation of an EPB report and the inclusion of innovations. A large-scale approach, such as the Dutch project, is therefore only interesting if it can provide an answer to these pending questions.

Trends in Europe

Within Europe, more and more countries are working on the concrete implementation of the EPBD standards. This is strongly encouraged by the European Commission through a number of study assignments and requirements in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). It was also the European Commission that initiated the development of the standards in 2008. The objective was to bundle the knowledge that has been built up by each country individually at the time. In 2017, a number of actions were taken to make the standards more easily applicable for countries. These included a revision of the standards and the establishment of the EPB Centre. One of the tasks of this knowledge centre is to support the implementation through a number of European projects.

Integration of the hourly method remains an important point of discussion

A review of the EPB policy framework often turns out to go hand in hand with a discussion on whether or not to implement the hourly method. This concerns a choice in accuracy of the calculation for determining the energy efficiency of a building; the smaller the margin of error on the calculation, the greater the flexibility in achieving a cost-effective design. A downside is though that a more accurate calculation also requires another type of software or more time to perform the calculation. For example, a new software requires extra development and training costs. The question whether or not the hourly methodology should be introduced remains a major topic of discussion; in the Dutch project, therefore, the choice for a monthly methodology had been established top-down in advance of the start of the project.

"The new EN ISO 52016-1 (as successor to EN ISO 13790:2008) certainly enables the application of the hourly calculation method, with the same input data that is required for the monthly method. The combination of both methods in one standard makes the switch to hourly calculation very easy.” Dick van Dijk – Co-convenor of ISO/TC 163 -TC 205 (EPB Center)

Opportunity for knowledge enhancement EPBD standards among experts

Apart from the specific points of discussion concerning the methodology, it appears that the EPBD standards are generally insufficiently known. Only a very small group of experts that has a complete overview of the standards. Enlarging this group could also increase the possibilities for the implementation of the standards. Through three European projects aimed at buildings renovations, the certification of experts and improving the use of measured data, REHVA and the EPB Center are trying to simplify and increase the use of EPBD standards. Through the CEN-CE training programme, for example, an attempt is being made to find ways to create a larger group of experts that is familiar with the content of the standards in an accessible manner. The three projects will be completed by the end of 2022.

Would you like more information? Click here for a full report of the workshop.