Reducing energy consumption and eliminating wastage are among the main goals of the European Union (EU). EU support for improving energy efficiency will prove decisive for competitiveness, security of supply and for meeting the commitments on climate change made under the Kyoto protocol. There is significant potential for reducing consumption with cost-effective measures. With 40% of our energy consumed in buildings, the EU has introduced legislation to ensure that they consume less energy.

A key part of this legislation is the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2002/91/EC,EPBD), first published in 2002, which required all EU countries to enhance their building regulations and to introduce energy certification schemes for buildings. All countries were also required to have inspections of boilers and air-conditioners.

The introduction of national laws meeting EU requirements was very challenging, as the legislation had many advanced aspects. It was a great opportunity to mobilise energy efficiency in EU buildings, but also a formidable and continuing challenge for many EU countries to transpose and implement the Directive.

To support EU countries in this task, the Concerted Action (CA) EPBD was launched by the European Commission to promote dialogue and exchange of best practice between them. The key aim was to enhance the sharing of information and experiences from national adoption and implementation of this important European legislation. An intensely active forum of national authorities from 29 countries, it focused on finding common approaches to the most effective implementation of this EU legislation.

The original Concerted Action EPBD came to a close in June 2007, but, with an implementation deadline of 2009 for Certification and Inspections, a second phase running until 2010 was launched immediately after the end of the first Concerted Action. When initiated in 2005, most countries were still at the planning stage. After stimulating advancement and convergence across the EU, the approach was enhanced in 2007.

The multi-faceted format of the forum, with specialist workshops combined with high level discussions, allied to networking opportunities and web resources, centered on sharing -and inspiring- smart solutions for the professional tools, skills and systems in all fields addressed by the legislation. These solutions were then applied across the majority of EU countries.

The countries then shared real operating experience and the Concerted Action provided ever increasing practical value and deeper learning to all participating authorities, playing its role in ensuring the success of this Directive as a vital instrument of EU energy efficiency policy in the built environment.

With the adoption of the recast EPBD in 2010 (Directive 2010/31/EU), EU Member States faced new tough challenges. Foremost among them, moving towards new and retrofitted nearly-zero energy buildings by 2020 (2018 in the case of Public buildings), and the application of a cost-optimal methodology for setting minimum requirements for both the envelope and the technical systems, the current Concerted Action thus aims at transposition and implementation of the EPBD recast, and it runs from 2011 until 2015. The first part (until 2012) focuses on transposition of the recast EPBD, the second part of the Concerted Action shall focus on implementation and lessons learned.

The CA is funded under Intelligent Energy–Europe under the European Union’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.