NZEB Construction Market

The building sector in Europe is responsible for approximately 40% of the total energy consumption. The percentage accounted for residential buildings amounts at 27% of the total. Hence, this sector has a key role in the path towards the enhancement of energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse emissions at EU level. The EPBD, together with the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive, established a set of measures with the aim to provide in Europe the conditions for significant and long-term improvements in the energy performance of the construction market.

The EPBD established that, starting from 2021 (2019 for public buildings), all new buildings must be nZEB. On average, the volume of housing development across Europe amounts 2.8 completed apartments per 1000 citizens (Figure 1). The number of households, at European level, is expected to increase by more than 15% by 2050 compared to the number measured in 2013.

Figure 1: Number of completed dwellings per 1000 citizens (Deloitte, 2017).


A cost-effective design and operation of these new dwellings play an important role in the final energy consumption the building. Regarding technical systems, as reported in Atanasiu et al. (2011), it is evident that technologies based on fossil fuel are not consistent with nZEB concept promoted by EPBD. Electric heat pump seems to be the most suitable technology, due to the expected increase of the renewable energy share in the national electricity mix and renewable on-site production. In addition to heat pumps also biomass micro-CHPs and district heating systems (with a renewable energy share of 50% at least) will be important in the future development of the nZEB market. Figure 2 shows the share of the most used heating systems, according to the climatic zone. In cold climate a sample of 234 buildings has been collected, in mild climate 160 and in warm climate 17. In cold climates the heat pump and the district heating occupy the first two positions of the most common heating technologies, whereas the heat pump has a lower penetration in comparison with mild climates (Paoletti et al., 2017).

Other technological aspects whose improvement is necessary to push forward the market uptake of nZEB are efficient thermal insulation materials and windows, HVAC technologies. However, an analysis of BPIE showed how the actual markets related to these technologies must grow consistently to cover the future demand due to nZEBs. Table 1 shows that ventilation systems with heat recovery and triple glazed windows currently have a market about ten times smaller than the required one. The market of insulation materials, heat pumps, pellet boilers and solar thermal systems has to growth 2-3 times.

Figure 2: Share of heating systems according to climatic zones (Paoletti et al., 2017).


Markets Required growth factor Current

market size

Insulation materials 2-3 2010 Mio €
Ventilation with HR 8-10 130.000 Units
Triple glazed windows >10 1.500.000 m2
Heat pumps 2-3 185.000 Units
Pellet boilers 2-3 43.000 Units
Solar thermal systems 2-3 3.700.000 m2

Table 1: Overview of the factors actual markets should grow by to satisfy future demand (BPIE, 2011).


Finally, extra costs for nZEB construction are displayed in Figure 3. The objective of CRAVEzero project is to identify and to propose solutions to reduce these extra costs associated with the nZEB construction.

Figure 3: Extra costs for nZEBs construction versus average cost of new constructions (Pascual et al., 2016).



Atanasiu, B., & Attia, S. (2011). Principles for nearly zero-energy buildings: Paving the way for effective implementation of policy requirements. Principles for nearly Zero-energy Buildings: Paving the way for effective implementation of policy requirements, 124.

BPIE. (2015). Factsheet Nearly Zero Energy Buildings Definitions across Europe.

EU IEE ZEBRA2020 Data Tool. Available online: [Accessed in March 2018].

Paoletti, G., Pascual Pascuas, R., Pernetti, R., & Lollini, R. (2017). Nearly Zero Energy Buildings: An Overview of the Main Construction Features across Europe. Buildings, 7(2), 43.

Pascual, R.; Paoletti, G. (2016). Deliverable 5.1: Nearly Zero-Energy Building (nZEB) Technology Solutions, Cost Assessment and Performance. Available online: