In most countries, the energy consumption of buildings reaches very high levels, making their energy efficiency potential high. Buildings play an important role in energy efficiency and make a significant contribution to combating climate change and energy consumption. Therefore, it is important to align the process, from the buildings’ design to their final completion and exploitation, with the pertinent green standards.
As per the Bulgarian Energy Efficiency Act and the Spatial Development Act, any building investment project should meet certain requirements regarding energy efficiency. These requirements apply to each and every investment project for (1) construction of a building; (2) redevelopment of a building which alters the building’s energy performance; as well as (3) redevelopment, deep renovation, or major renovation of a building which encompass more than 25% of the area of the external fence structures and components of the building and which alter the building’s energy performance.
Investment projects must: (1) take into account the technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of high-efficiency alternative installations and systems; (2) provide a possibility for mounting self-regulation devices and for separate regulation of temperature in each individual room or – where justified, technically possible, and economically viable – in a specially designated heating space in a separate part of a building; and (3) envisage designing buildings with near to zero energy consumption.
After final completion of construction, each new building receives an energy performance certificate. The assignor is required to obtain an energy performance certificate for the new building prior to the commissioning. The new building’s energy performance certificate is one of the statutory documents required for obtaining a use permit for the building.
The requirement for obtaining an energy performance certificate is not applicable to: (1) buildings of cultural merit, so far as compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would alter the architectural and/or artistic character of the building; (2) buildings owned by the armed forces or the administration and serving national defense purposes; (3) places of worship of the legally registered religious denominations in Bulgaria; (4) temporary buildings with a planned time of use not exceeding two years; (5) non-residential buildings with low energy consumption used for agricultural activities; (6) manufacturing buildings and parts of buildings with a productive assigned use; (7) residential buildings which are used as such for either less than four months of the year or, alternatively, for a limited annual time and with an expected energy consumption of less than 25% of what would be the result of all-year use; and (8) buildings with a total floor area of less than 50 square meters.
The energy performance requirements are subject to mandatory regular verification every five years and, where necessary, shall be updated in order to reflect technological advances in the building sector.
The energy performance requirements also apply to investment projects for the redevelopment of a building and to already constructed buildings. The energy performance of buildings in use is subject to an energy efficiency audit. Its purpose is to determine the level of energy consumption, identify the specific opportunities for reducing consumption, and recommend energy efficiency improvement measures. After successful completion of the audit, the building receives an energy performance certificate.
The energy performance certificate for a building in use is valid for up to ten years, depending on the energy consumption category of the building per the energy consumption scale. After the expiry of the validity term, the owner of the building is required to reobtain an up-to-date energy performance certificate for the building.
When a new building for which an energy performance certificate has been issued, or a stand-alone unit therein, is announced for sale or rent, the “specific annual expenditure of primary energy” indicator, in kilowatt-hours per square meter, as stated in the energy performance certificate, shall be noted in all announcements. Upon the sale of a new building, the seller shall provide the buyer with the original energy performance certificate of the building. Upon the sale of a building unit in a new building, renting a new building, or a building unit therein, the seller or landlord shall provide the buyer or tenant with a copy of the energy performance certificate of the building. However, if the seller or landlord should fail to provide such a certificate that would not affect the validity of the deal or rental contract.
By Antonia Kehayova, Co-Head of Real Estate, CMS Sofia