Help, I cannot see the wood in the EPBD standards | Agoria

Help, I cannot see the wood in the EPBD standards

Published on 26/02/19 by Charlotte van de Water
EPBD-normen hebben betrekking op de energieprestatie in gebouwen. Maar wat zijn deze normen precies? Hoe worden ze ontwikkeld en hoe kunt u daar zelf aan deelnemen?

The previous article on energy policy for buildings discussed the role of standards aimed at energy performance in buildings, the 'EPBD standards', in promoting energy efficiency in buildings. This article provides further explanation on what these standards are, how they are developed and how it is possible to participate in their development.

What are the EPBD standards?

The EPBD standards are a set of standards developed on the basis of the mandate M/343 in 2007/2008 and revised on the basis of the mandate M/480 on behalf of the European Commission to support the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The objective of the standards is to gather European best practices for the EPB among others (the implementation of the minimum energy performance requirements) and make them available to the European member states. The review focused on the national and regional options these standards can offer. For each EPB standard a spreadsheet was developed complementary to the calculation method. The revised standards were largely published in 2017. The next step is to see how the information in the standards can be utilised to shape the optimisation of the EPB.

For more information on the revision of the EPBD, click here. 

What is standardisation?

Standardisation is broadly speaking a process aimed at conforming something to one or more rules. In the regulatory context, standards and other standardisation publications are voluntary technical specifications for products, services and processes. The intention is that standards represent best practices from industry, tertiary and public sector. In the field the word 'norms' is sometimes used instead of 'standards'. This is related to the fact that the Dutch and French translation of the word normalisation is 'normaliseren' (in Dutch) or 'normaliser' (in French). In industry, standardisation is also understood as the establishment of standards (and is therefore also referred to as standardisation). 

What is the relationship between standards and regulations?

A standard is the voluntary recording of a number of agreements between stakeholders; it is not a regulation. Standards can become mandatory when referred to in laws, contracts, public procurement or certification. For example, some regulations refer to certain standards to establish the execution of conformity tests for products. Sometimes a reference is made to  'Ecodesign' and 'Energy labelling' as European norms or standards, but this is not correct. The Ecodesign and Energy labelling regulations are binding European legislative documents, which apply in all member states without transposition into national regulations with a directly binding status at European level. 

What is a harmonised standard?

Harmonised standards are European standards developed by European standardisation bodies at the request of the European Commission on the basis of a mandate in support of European regulations (directives and regulations). About 20% of all European standards are developed in this way. Through harmonised standards, a company can demonstrate that products or services meet the technical requirements of the relevant EU legislation. The use of harmonised standards is in principle voluntary. 

Why are there different codes on the standard documents?

During the development process of a standard, the various design documents are marked with 'ballot codes' in order to recognise the phase they are in (see Figure 1). In this way it is fairly easy to recognise that a document containing 'prEN' is in the public consultation phase and therefore ready for the provision of feedback. In the case of Belgian and European standards, open consultations can be found via the NBN public enquiry portal  (accessible to everyone) or via the ISOlutions portal (only for committee members) for NBN (Belgian body for standardisation), CEN (European body for standardisation) and ISO (international body for standardisation) standards. Next to standards, the development process can also result in a number of other standardisation documents, such as a technical specification (TS), a technical report (TR) or a manual. The choice between these different documents is made based on the objective of the information in the document and the consensus found in a committee. The published standards and standards in development can be found here per committee: CEN/TC371, CEN/TC88/89, CEN /TC156, CEN/TC169, CEN/TC228, CEN/TC247.



Figure 1: Schematic interpretation of process steps for standardization including the ballot codes for CEN and ISO documents (source: Agoria)

What is the easiest way for me to read the EPBD standards?

A modular structure has been created specifically for EPBD standards, which is described in the ISO 52000-1 on the overarching framework. The structure organises the more than 90 standards. The basis consists of four types of modules:

  • M1 for the overarching standards (e.g. provisions for energy performance expression)
  • M2 for the building (e.g. provisions for energy demand, ventilation)
  • M3-M11 for technical building systems (e.g. provisions for heating, ventilation, SWW)
  • M12-13 for other systems or applications not covered by EPB

Each module can then be considered within different the sub-modules; general (1), needs (2), intended application (3), expression of energy performance (4), functions (5), use (6), interactions (7), zoning (8), calculation method (9), measurement method (10), inspection (11), comfort (12), external environmental conditions (13), economic calculations (14). A sub-module that applies to a module than refers to one or more standards.

For example; the combination of the module M2 'building'  and sub-module 2 'needs' results in the following standards and technical report:

  • The standard EN ISO 52016-1 'Energy performance of buildings - Energy needs for heating and cooling, internal temperatures and sensible and latent heat loads - Part 1: Calculation procedures
  • The standard EN ISO 52017-1 'Energy performance of buildings -- Sensible and latent heat loads and internal temperatures -- Part 1: Generic calculation procedures
  • The technical report CEN ISO/TR 52016-2 'Energy performance of buildings - Energy needs for heating and cooling, internal temperatures and sensible and latent heat loads - Part 2: Explanation and justification of ISO 52016-1 and ISO 52017-1'.

These two standards and the technical report are all developed and managed by the Technical Committee 89 (CEN/TC89) on 'Thermal performance of buildings and building components'. An overview of the modules and sub-modules can be found in the table in each standard that indicates the position of that standard in the modular structure (Table 1). 

What is the difference between a standard and a technical report (TR)?

A corresponding technical report is regularly added in support of the EPBD standards. The technical report is a way of recording interesting, non-normative information that has resulted from the development of a standard. For example, ISO EN 52000-2 includes further explanation of the four hurdles approach to determine energy performance, which complements the description of indicators for determining nearly-zero energy buildings (NZEB) in ISO EN 52000-1. Both a standard and a technical report are approved on the basis of consensus in the technical committee. The requirements for the vote and life span are slightly different; only the standard falls under the 5-yearly systematic review. 

What is the difference between Annex A and B in the EPBD standards?

In the revision of the EPBD standards, an Annex A and Annex B have been added to each EPBD standard. Annex A is a template that allows Member States to add their own data according to the standard's structure. Annex B contains default values, which can be adopted by the Member States if they do not want to add their own data. The revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) stipulates that Member States must describe their calculation methodology according to Annex A of the standards ISO 52000-1, 52003-1, 52010-1, 52016-1 and 52018-1 before 20 March 2020. This means that they write down their own calculation method according to the structure of Annex A of the respective standards. 

For more information on the revision of the EPBD, click here.

What is the role of a technical commission?

Standards are developed and managed in so-called technical committees. There are technical committees at CEN and ISO level, which are mirrored at national level. These national committees are also called 'mirror committees'. The EPBD standards are developed and managed in six committees, each with its own focus:

  • CEN/TC371 as the umbrella project group
  • CEN/TC89 with a focus on a building's shell
  • CEN/TC 156 with a focus on ventilation
  • CEN/TC169 with a focus on lighting
  • CEN/TC 228 with a focus on heating and cooling
  • CEN/TC 247 with a focus on building automation (BACS)

Within the committees a working group can be created specifically aimed at developing a standard. This working group may be withdrawn once the standard has been completed. Two working groups are currently active within the Belgian Mirror Committee for heating and cooling (E228) for the development of Belgian Annexes to the standards NBN EN 12831-1 and NBN EN 12831-3. Belgian Mirror Committees are usually referred to by the sector operator followed by the letter 'E' for European and 'I' for international, for example SA/E228. The sharing of documents and information and the voting on the standards is done per committee via the document management system; the ISOlutions portal. To obtain a login account it is necessary to become a member of a commission. Members of Agoria can join at special conditions. More information can be obtained from Ludo Vanroy (

For more information about the development of the Belgian Annex to NBN EN 12831-1, click here.

What is the role of Agoria in the development of EPBD standards?

As operator sector for NBN/E371, the coordination of the development of standards for the EPBD standards is in the hands of the Belgian Bureau for Standardisation (NBN).  The contributing commissions are coordinated by a number of sector operators. Together with Sirris, Agoria is the operator of three of the Belgian mirror committees for the EPBD standards; the SA/E156, SA/E228 and SA/E247. This means that Sirris-Agoria provides the secretariat for these commissions. The Secretariat monitors the procedures, organises consultations and has a neutral position. In addition,  Dirk De Moor ( of Agoria is Chairman for the Belgian Mirror Committee NBN/E371. The role of the chairman is to obtain consensus during the meeting. It is also a neutral role. A chairman is elected by the members of the committee. For the other committees, the secretariat is provided for NBN (NBN/E371), WTCB (BBRI/E89) and IBE-BIV (IBE-BIV/E169).

How can I participate in the development of the standards?

As an expert of a company or other organization it is possible to participate in the development of standards by joining a committee. You can choose between an active or passive membership. As an active member it is possible to vote and participate in the CEN or ISO working groups as an expert. To become a member of a CEN or ISO committee it is always necessary to first become a member of the national committee. The committee delegates a member to participate in CEN or ISO plenary meetings. For more information on membership of one of the committees, please contact Ludo Vanroy (   

Looking for more information on standardisation? As an expert in one of the standardization committees, you can participate in the training 'introduction to standardization' provided by the Belgian Bureau for Standardisation (NBN). This year, the training is given in March, June and October. The next session will take place in Brussels on 19 (in French) and 26 March 2019 and 21 (in Dutch) and 26 March 2019. More information about the training and registration can be found here.

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