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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
Newsletter17 March 2021

Making net zero-energy real and affordable in EU residential buildings

solar panels and workers
Roof edge #PV demonstrated by @zeroplus_eu in France saves costs and valuable roof space for other services. 7kW generation for 18 apartments
Credit: Philippe Moseley

The ZERO-PLUS project, funded under H2020 Energy Efficiency, has successfully evolved technologies and practices for the delivery of net zero-energy buildings in support of the European Green Deal’s renovation wave. Moreover, the project developed solutions that make net zero-energy buildings competitive and affordable for EU citizens.

The success story started in 2015, when the project developed and demonstrated a complete solution for cost-effective construction of “net-zero energy settlements” – meaning buildings that produce more renewable energy than what they consume. The challenge was to deliver the next generation of solutions that would allow mainstreaming “beyond” nearly-zero energy buildings.
The demonstration delivered by ZERO-PLUS in Voreppe (France) is illustrative of the project’s achievements: a social housing 18-apartment block combining highly energy-efficient construction products with on-site renewable electricity and heat production, biomass district heating, hot water storage and energy monitoring and control. With more than 120 kWh/m2/year of renewable energy production, the net consumption of the building is negative by a significant extent (around -10 kWh/m2/year). These impressive results were achieved with costs that are more than 25% lower than the typical costs of nearly-zero energy construction in France.
In line with the project’s objectives, the other demonstration sites, in Cyprus, Italy and the United Kingdom have confirmed that it is possible to achieve a net energy consumption below 20 kWh/m2/year and renewable energy production above 50 kWh/m2/year with reduced costs of at least 16% compared to standard nearly zero-energy construction.
The project has allowed maturing a set of promising technologies that are now ready for large-scale rollout on the market. The innovative systems for solar thermal cooling, multifunctional roof edge solar production and hybrid generation of heat and electricity will contribute to enrich the offer available to EU construction companies for delivering affordable, highly energy performance buildings. These solutions have a large potential to support the EU’s ambitious renovation wave and to help achieving the 2030 energy and climate targets.


See the project’s recording of the webinar on Designing, constructing and monitoring Net Zero Energy (NZE) Settlements on the BUILD UP portal.

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Publication date
17 March 2021