What do you know about the energy passport?

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Rudolphe ABEN

What do you know about the energy passport?

Having accurate information about the primary energy consumption of each home is what makes the energy passport, also called an "energy certificate," so useful for comparing properties. This document is required for all construction projects beginning on or after January 1, 2008. An inspection of the building's energy efficiency can be performed at the same time!

Acquiring knowledge from the energy performance certificate

The primary energy consumption of a home is determined in a controlled environment using a similar level of comfort and within the context of a predetermined use to generate an energy performance certificate. Thus, it facilitates the comparison of two properties' energy efficiency in Luxembourg, but it is not a replacement for a realistic simulation of consumption (which varies according to the weather, but also according to the requirements and habits of the users).

What responsibilities come with an energy passport?

In 2008, the energy certificate was made required for all construction projects, including additions and remodels. The application and the building permit application must be submitted at the same time. If the work being done does not exceed 10% of the living space (or €1,500 for a single-family home and €3,000 for a multifamily building), then the document is not required.

“All new construction, additions, and renovations performed after 2008 must have an energy certificate”.

Different types of energy passports exist in the realm of residential buildings because the standards for old and new buildings are different.

Standards for assessing energy passports

The energy passport's evaluation criteria help shape new approaches to building; these days, improved thermal performances are prioritized in the pursuit of energy-efficient structures. It is our goal to set a new benchmark in energy efficiency in Luxembourg, and the passive house is just the beginning.

Indeed, the Grand Ducal regulation of July 23, 2016, which details the requirements for the primary energy requested by a building, is extremely stringent, even more so than the requirements of neighboring countries. The insulation thickness in the walls should be 20 centimeters, the roof should be 40 centimeters, and the lower slab should receive extra care (which can become a source of heat loss).

The energy passport primarily assesses the building's orientation, thermal envelope, watertight envelope (to prevent thermal bridges and limit condensation, respectively, both of which can contribute to humidity issues), and overall compactness (to ensure the greatest possible volume is heated with the fewest possible losses) (favoring the south for the living rooms, leaving a maximum of space for natural light).

“The compactness, thermal envelope, airtight envelope, and orientation of the building are all evaluated in the energy passport”.

How can we improve our construction practices to ensure the standards set in the Energy Passport?

While there are a number of prerequisites that must be met before applying for the energy passport, there are ways to build that allow you to exceed these official recommendations and create even greener homes. With this in mind, the passive house model has been imposed on the territory at large, and an increasing number of high-performance, zero-net-energy buildings are also springing up.

For this reason, while single glazing was sufficient in the 1970s and double glazing in the 2000s, we now rely on triple glazing, with frames that combine solid and waterproof materials like aluminum and wood for maximum energy efficiency.

Though many firms in the industry are still focused on making a profit (and thus on finding the cheapest materials that will allow them to work faster), the future of today's buildings has inspired a lot of introspection. It is becoming more and more important to choose alternatives that not only provide superior thermal comfort, but also offer recyclable solutions that will not pollute the environment when they reach the end of their useful lives.