REHVA Journal – February 2012

REHVA Fellow

European legislation is a big challenge also to REHVA, who has a very important role to inform HVAC professionals about all new issues affecting our profession and industry. In this mission, REHVA has prepared webpages on EU regulations. These webpages were a result of the initiative from our supporters and after a short preparatory work opened in May 2011. The webpages give lots of links to further information – mainly to webpages of EU legislative bodies, to a number of EU Directives and Regulations, and also to European Standardization, R&D programmes and individual actions and projects which aim to support the development of EU legislation.

These pages can be found at - the aim of this article is to provide a brief overview of the contents of the EU regulations webpages, and to introduce a few pages of the contents by a few examples of the text and brief notes about the items presented. A few other pieces of EU legislation, and of related activities, will be presented in later issues of REHVA Journal. Direct quotations from the pages are presented in separate boxes. The text here does not include the numerous hyperlinks, which lead the reader to a high number of other public webpages.

Contents – overview, the “EU legislation” page

The main page “EU Regulations” gives a link to the recent updates, and then presents briefly the contents of the 10 pages.

The page “EU legislation” introduces the main elements in the legislation process and explains the main features of different types of regulations. The subtitles here are: Legislative process, Parliament, Council, Commission, Committees, Directives, Decisions, Regulations, Policy documents, Important directives.

The page describes the main legislative process and the role of the Commission, as well as a few words about the connections between the Commission, Parliament and Council.

Most important Directorates of the Commission related to building industry are listed with hyperlinks to the Directorates’ pages:

·         Energy (DG ENER) –energy issues like Energy policy, Energy efficiency of buildings directive (EPBD), Eco-design of energy related products (ErP), district heating, renewable energies etc.

·         Enterprise and industry(DG ENTR) – all general business related issues,

·         Environment (DG ENV) – all environmental issues like building labelling

·         Health and consumers (DG SANCO) – indoor air climate and health, radon etc.

·         Research and innovation (DG RESEARCH) – funding of research projects and developing the research programmes

·         Climate action (DG Clima) –F-gas regulations etc.

·         ICT – Information society – Thematic network


The Commission

The European Commission is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, which it presents to Parliament and the Council. The European Commission is organized into 20 departments (Directorate General - DG). Each department in the commission is lead by the Commissioner appointed by member states with help of permanent staff lead by Director-General.

The term ‘Commission’ is used in two senses. First, it refers to the team of men and women – one from each EU country – appointed to run the institution and take its decisions. Secondly, the term ‘Commission’ refers to the institution itself and to its staff. The day-to-day running of the Commission is done by its administrative officials, experts, translators, interpreters and secretarial staff. There are approximately 23 000 of these European civil servants. These EU officers prepare all legislation and balance the opinions of all interest groups (stakeholders).

The most common procedure for adopting (i.e. passing) EU legislation is “co-decision”. This procedure places the European Parliament (785 members) and the European Council (27 member countries) on an equal footing and it applies to legislation in a wide range of fields.

After this preparatory work in the committees, the proposals are handled in the Plenary meeting of the parliament. Simultaneously with the process in the parliament, the proposals are discussed by the Council of European Union.



A few paragraphs which give some additional information about the European parliament and the European Council can also be found from this page.

Directive, Regulation, Decision – what in common, what is different?

Perhaps the most discussed type of EU legislation is “Directive”. But also other types of legislative documents exist, and there are also significant differences in these, explained briefly on the pages.


What are EU directives?

EU directives lay down certain end results that must be achieved in every Member State. National authorities have to adapt their laws to meet these goals, but are free to decide how to do so. Directives may concern one or more Member States, or all of them. Each directive specifies the date by which the national laws must be adapted - giving national authorities the room for manoeuvre within the deadlines necessary to take account of differing national situations.

Directives are used to bring different national laws into line with each other, and are particularly common in matters affecting the operation of the single market (e.g. product safety standards).


What are EU regulations?

Regulations are the most direct form of EU law - as soon as they are passed, they have binding legal force throughout every Member State, on a par with national laws. National governments do not have to take action themselves to implement EU regulations. Regulations are passed either jointly by the EU Council and European Parliament, and by the Commission alone.

When a regulation comes into force, it overrides all national laws dealing with the same subject matter and subsequent national legislation must be consistent with and made in the light of the regulation.


What are EU decisions?

Decisions are EU laws relating to specific cases. They can come from the EU Council (sometimes jointly with the European Parliament) or the Commission. They can require authorities and individuals in Member States either do something or stop doing something, and can also confer rights on them. EU decisions are fully binding.



The “EU legislation” page also explains a few most important activities and plans related to energy efficiency and policies to tackle the Global Climate Change, thus showing also big challenges to our industry and profession for the future. One of the main sources for further information in all energy issues on REHVA pages is the Commission’s website dealing with energy efficiency in buildings, see


The Directive on energy performance of buildings (2002/91/EC) is the main legislative instrument at EU level to achieve energy performance in buildings. Under this Directive, the Member States must apply minimum requirements as regards the energy performance of new and existing buildings, ensure the certification of their energy performance and require the regular inspection of boilers and air conditioning systems in buildings.


The EPBD page gives a short history, based on the descriptions at the Commission’s energy efficiency website, and describes the main contents with many links to the most important background documents. Milestones, and links to the most essential documents are listed.


·         Dec 2002: EU adopts Energy Performance Buildings Directive (EPBD)

·         Jan 2006: Deadline for transposing EPBD (2002) into national law.

·         Nov 2008: Commission proposes revision of EPBD

·         Apr 2009: Parliament adopts first-reading position

·         Nov 2009: EU reaches political agreement on directive

·         May 2010: Parliament approves new legislation.

·         May 2010: EU adopts (approves) the recast (revised) EPBD 2010

·         End 2018: Public buildings to have to be nearly zero energy standards.

·         End 2020: All new buildings to be nearly zero energy.


The summary of the major changes in the recast 2010 compared to EPBD 2002 can be found from a linked slide presentation prepared by REHVA.

REHVA has specified the definitions to be use in the zero energy buildings. The page provides a direct link to the final report of the REHVA Task Force. This activity has been introduced in issues 3 and 5 or REHVA Journal 2011. [1],[2]

The EPBD page also introduces a few of the most important actions which aim to support and accelerate the implementation of the EPBD both into national legislation in Member States and into real practice:

·         Concerted action, see

·         The BuildUp portal, see

·         European Standardization on EPBD – explained in more detail on the “Standards and standardization” page, which will be introduced in the next article.

·         Cost efficiency: The recast EPBD requires the Commission to establish by 30 June 2011 a comparative framework methodology for calculating cost-optimal levels of minimum energy performance requirements for buildings and building elements. The draft of this methodology called “delegated Regulation supplementing Directive 2010/31/EU” is now published and can be downloaded from the page. A guideline - Commission staff working paper – also linked on the EPBD page provides relevant additional information to the Member States and reflects the accepted principles for the cost calculations required in the context of the Regulation. A separate subpage explains the Commission’s documentation in more detail – the most recent news is discussed in a special article in this Journal issue.


Needs for development – also readers’ and users’ feedback is welcome

The pages were developed in spring 2011, and the recent updates have made a few additions. So it is obvious that is could not cover all subjects relevant to HVAC within this huge world of EU legislation. At least one major gap has been identified – the new Construction Products Regulation (CPR), which has replaced the old Construction Products Directive (CPD), is not yet introduced in this website yet. The CPR, briefly introduced in REHVA Journal 3/2011 [3], will most probably have more impact also on HVAC products than the old CPD - The CPR is expect to significantly improve the functioning of internal market for construction products. It will bring mandatory CE-marking to Finland, Sweden, UK, Ireland and Norway, where CE marking has been voluntary so far. In these countries the impact of the CPR will be greater than in countries where CE-marking has already been mandatory.

Many HVAC products are also subject to other regulations not introduced in the pages yet. For example, CE marking is mandatory for air handling units by machinery and low voltage directives, proofing safety of AHUs, but not telling anything about air moving capacity. All products containing electrical or electronic components may be subject to EU legislation restricting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (Directive 2002/95/EC; RoHS) and promoting the collection and recycling of such equipment (Directive 2002/96/EC; WEEE), although these regulations have so far left for national interpretations.

In any case, there is obviously a need for systematic and continuous improvement of the pages. All feedback from the users of these pages is welcome and important. REHVA welcomes comments on the existing texts, and suggestions to improve the pages.


[1]       Kurnitski, J. et al, How to define nearly net zero energy buildings nZEB – REHVA proposal for uniformed national implementation of EPBD recast. REHVA Journal 3/2011, p. 6-12

[2]       Kurnitski, J., How to calculate cost optimal nZEB energy performance? REHVA Journal 5/2011, p. 36-41.

[3]       Virtanen, M.J., The Construction Products Directive revised. REHVA Journal 3/2011, p. 89-91.

Jorma RailioPages 54 - 57

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