Energy efficiency of buildings

Around 45% of energy consumed in Estonia is used for buildings, so we need to make buildings more energy efficient, while improving the indoor climate of buildings, preserving existing structures and tidying up the exterior.

To this end, minimum energy efficiency requirements for new and significantly renovated buildings have been established, based on cost-optimal studies, and the minimum requirements are reviewed every five years, most recently in early 2019.

  • From the beginning of 2020, the minimum energy efficiency requirement for new buildings will be a Class A building, i.e. a Zero Energy Class building. A Zero Energy Class building is a building that will be constructed in a technically reasonable manner using a solution of energy efficiency and renewable energy technology in accordance with the best possible construction practice. However, buildings undergoing general refurbishment must reach Class C.

The minimum energy performance requirements for a building apply to the entire building.

The minimum energy performance requirements apply to the following groups of buildings with different limit values for each type of building:

  • small houses divided into 3 groups, depending on the size of the heated area of the building;
  • apartment buildings;
  • barracks;
  • office buildings;
  • residential buildings,
  • commercial premises,
  • public buildings,
  • commercial buildings and terminals;
  • school buildings;
  • nursery preschool buildings;
  • GP surgeries medical buildings;
  • warehouse building;
  • Industrial buildings
  • energy-intensive buildings such as hospitals, ice rinks, etc.

The minimum energy performance requirements, including energy labelling, do not apply to the following buildings:

  • remain within the range of ecological value or as a valuable individual object on the basis of a general or detailed plan;
  • identified buildings or buildings which are recognized as monuments, which are located in a protected area or on the UNESCO World Heritage List and whose nature or appearance would be significantly altered by meeting the minimum energy performance requirements;
  • buildings used mainly as places of worship or for religious activities;
  • temporary buildings with a service life of up to two years;
  • industrial areas, workshops and low-energy agricultural buildings without housing;
  • apartments used for less than four months of the year;
  • Buildings with a closed net area of up to 50 sq.m.

The biggest challenge for the state, municipalities and the private sector in the coming years is the reconstruction of existing buildings. Buildings built before the year 2000 are considered in need of renovation. To this end, a long-term reconstruction strategy for buildings has been developed.

According to the strategy, the following is expected to be reconstructed within 30 years:

  • 100,000 houses with a total area of 14 million m2;
  • 14,000 apartment buildings with a total area of 18 million m2;
  • 27,000 non-residential buildings with a total area of 22 million m2.

Energy label

The energy label certifies compliance with the minimum energy performance requirements. An energy label is a document that indicates how much energy a building or part of a building consumes per square meter of heated area and year.

The energy label provides information on the planned energy requirements or the actual energy consumption of a planned or existing building. Energy consumption is the cost of heating, cooling, water heating, ventilation, lighting, electrical appliances, etc. in a building.

Energy requirements and consumption are scaled from A to H. This contributes to the comparison of the buildings. The values of the classes vary depending on the purpose of the building.

The energy label is accompanied by recommendations for saving energy in the building and improving the indoor climate, unless there is a reasonable possibility of doing so, for example, the building has conservation regulations. An important criterion according to which the property is selected for purchase is also the energy label of a building.

The building's energy label is also a prerequisite for receiving various support measures, such as KredEx guarantees and loans.

The energy label must be placed in a location clearly visible to visitors in a building that:

  1. has a closed net area of more than 500 square meters and is visited by the public;
  2. is a state or local authority or other public body with more than 250 square meters of closed network area and is frequently visited by the public.

Buying a property is one of the biggest investments in a person's life. In order to make an informed decision when buying a building, the property listing must include the energy performance certificate, including the energy efficiency class or weighted specific energy consumption and the corresponding class.

Last updated: 10.04.2021