More than half of new buildings exceed energy requirements

Summary

As the country’s biggest building expo opens today, Flanders announces that the E30 energy norms, only required in Flanders by 2021, are already being met by more than half of new homes and buildings

Batibouw opens today

More than half of all new homes and buildings in Flanders are within the E30 energy norms, meaning they are Bijna Energie Neutraal, or Nearly Zero-Energy. This is a step in the right direction, said Flemish energy minister Bart Tommelein, not least of all because an E30 certification will be legally required for new buildings starting in 2021.

“For the last few years, the Flemish have been building more energy efficient than was legally required,” said Tommelein today, as the Batibouw building expo opens in Brussels. “It is proof that people are thinking ahead.”

Flanders has been enforcing stronger energy norms every year for the past three years. Currently, an E40 certificate is required. The latest set of figures from the government’s building and energy agency shows that 70% of new buildings have stricter norms than the E40 requires and that just over half are already conforming to the E30 norms.

The E30 standard “lowers energy costs and is also much better for the environment,” said Tommelein. The certificates are based on a number of factors, such as a building’s insulation, size, orientation to the sun and its heating and ventilation systems. E30 means that the building is nearly carbon-neutral, meaning that it uses very little energy in total.

The figures also show that one in five renovations being carried out are specifically for energy-efficiency reasons. These include installation of double-paned glass or solar panels, new roofs and additional insulation. If a renovation meets certain standards, homeowners and others can get a tax break.

Small but smart

The figures were released today to coincide with Batibouw, Belgium’s largest building and renovation fair. Some of the fair’s biggest themes this year follow in the footsteps of government regulations, such as Flanders’ betonstop (literally “concrete halt”).

The betonstop will see the current six hectares of open space lost to building sites a day brought down to three by 2025. By 2040, the government of Flanders plans to put a stop to all new building on arable land.

So building up rather than out and doing more with less space is something vendors at Batibouw will be focusing on this year, as well as how to build as energy-efficiently as possible. There is also a noticeable upward trend in “smart houses” – those in which utilities and appliances can be controlled by smartphone apps and other devices.