Energy  |  Successes  |  23.10.2012

The passive standard - Sustainable buildings in Brussels

Brussels-Capital Region has developed several measures to improve energy efficiency of buildings through large-scale promotion of sustainable renovation and construction techniques. These policies, promoted by the Brussels Environment Ministry under the French-speaking Green party Ecolo, have significantly reduced the city’s energy consumption. The implementation of the recently approved “Standard Passif” (Passive Standard) will put Brussels at the forefront of the transition to sustainable buildings in Europe. 

Brussels Capital-Region has made efforts to catch up in the field of energy savings. Between 2004 and 2010, Brussels energy consumption per capita has decreased by 18%. Currently, the city has also half a million m2 of passive buildings.

These good results can be attributed to the policies implemented by the region and the large number of measures aiming to improve the energy efficiency of Brussels’ buildings.

  • Subsidies and a zero-interest “green loan”: The recipients are those willing to equip their buildings better in order to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Energy challenge: It is an annual meeting organised to help families to reduce their energy bill by simple economic steps.
  • Exemplary buildings: The region of Brussels is organising a call for proposals to encourage the construction and renovation of buildings to prove that sustainability and good prices can come together.  The initiation of the construction of eco-social housing is also part of the “Exemplary Building” activities.
  • Support to professionals: The region gives support to professionals that want to be involved in sustainable constructions through practical guides, training and network experts.
  • “Energy Performance of Building” (EPB): The EPB regulations define the energy performance of all buildings. All property purchased or rented have to be provided with an EPB certificate.

The Passive Standard

A passive building uses 10 times less energy for heating than a standard structure. From 2015 all new construction or major renovations of houses, offices and schools will have to adopt the passive standard. Brussels Region will be the first in the world to adopt this standard. This region is 6 years ahead of the deadline set by a European directive that will impose this standard in 2021.

The requirements for housing (new construction / reconstruction) under the passive standard include:

  • The building must be designed to have an annual heating demand of not more than 15 kWh/m² per year (ten times less that the consumption of a conventional building)
  • Primary energy consumption for heating, hot water and control gear must not be more than 45 kWh per m2 per year (five times less than consumption of conventional housing);
  • The heater temperature must not exceed 25 ° C for a 5% period of a year.

The impact of the passive standard will be enormous.  In average, 210.000 m2 of offices and 200.000 m2 of residential buildings are built in the capital each year. Therefore, according to Evelyne Huytebroeck (Brussels Environmental Minister, from the Belgian French-speaking Green party Ecolo), the potential savings in CO2 emissions will rise up to 15,000 tons per year and will represent a € 5 million energy saving per year.

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Brussels, Sustainable City