How Passive Houses Took Over Brussels
May 01, 2017
By: Arnaud Brohé & Thomas Huberland
The Brussels Capital Region has experienced an energy revolution in the last ten years, transforming it into a lodestar in the passive house movement.
As early as 2010, the European Union issued the nearly zero-emissions buildings directive (or NZEB directive), triggering the movement toward low-emissions buildings in all Member States but giving them the freedom to follow their own path toward the implementation of the directive. Prior to the NZEB, Brussels (Belgium) launched a contest for exemplary buildings starting in 2007 to generate momentum around sustainable buildings by granting subsidies to construction projects exemplifying outstanding energy performance, architectural quality, low environmental impact, and scalability. In total, between 2007 and 2013, 253 projects received grants for an amount of €36 million. However, there was still a long way to come close to the NZEB target and a bold move was required for the Belgian capital city, where 70% of the energy consumed is used in buildings that are rather old: 90% of them were built before 1980. Nonetheless, the Brussels regional government saw an opportunity to become a European leader in building energy performance under those challenging circumstances and started working on a new legislation for the 400,000 square meters (4.3 million square feet) built every year in the heart of Europe.
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