PANZEB- National Action Plan to boost nZEBs

by Francesco Paolo Lamacchia President del First Italian Network of Zero-Energy Buildings (Ec0)

Considering that energy efficiency is the first priority of the National Energy Strategy in Italy and that the construction sector in the country is an element of great potential in order to achieve the energy saving targets by 2020, the Ministry of Economic Development, in line with the European Directives on the energy performance of buildings, has recently published the Interministerial Decree of 19 June 2017 approving the “National Action Plan to boost near-Zero Energy Buildings” pursuant to art. 4-bis-paragraph 2 of Legislative Decree no. 192 of 2005, together with the Plan itself (Official Gazette No.187 of 11 August 2017).
This plan (Panzeb) was elaborated by a working group composed of ENEA, RSE and CTI, with the coordination of the Ministry of Economic Development. To complement this plan, the Strategy for the energy renewal of the national real estate, also known as Strepin, provided for by the Legislative Decree of July 4, 2014, no. 102 and in the process of being issued. It also indicates in particular the objectives to be achieved, the lines of action to follow, the critical points to overcome and the possible strategic solutions.
Panzeb clarifies the meaning of nZEB (nearly Zero Energy Building) as any building, either new built or already existing, where, on the one hand, all the energy performance indices, calculated according to the minimum requirements effective from January 1, 2019 for public buildings and from January 1, 2021 for all other buildings, are lower than the values ​​of the corresponding indices calculated for the reference building (i.e. a virtual building geometrically equivalent to the one designed but equipped with all current energy parameters and minimum thermal characteristics); and where, on the other hand, the obligations to integrate renewable sources are respected in compliance with the minimum principles set out in Annex 3 (1) (c) of Legislative Decree no. 28. The plan document contains an assessment of the energy performance index for some buildings of different categories and with different intended use and climatic zone chosen from those used in previous studies. It should be noted that in order to meet the requirements of the nZEBs and in particular the requirement for renewable energy, it will be essential to assess the use of the heat pump (possibly centralized and combined for the production of thermal energy for heating, hot water and cooling) possibly associated with photovoltaic systems, if necessary to achieve the renewable share.
Realizing a building with elements and technologies that will allow high performance levels, obviously leads to an increase in investment costs and therefore Panzeb analyzes the overhead investment costs for new and existing buildings related to the achievement of the nZEB targets. The table shows that the cost increase for residential buildings is due more to the system solutions adopted rather than to measures related to the insulation of the building envelope. In office buildings, however, there is a greater burden on glazed surfaces (more expensive than opaque ones), while solutions such as heat pumps can already be considered as standard and therefore do not represent an additional cost. A reflection, which can now be done in light of the latest major technological innovations associated with transparent photovoltaic systems, is that these systems, if applied, would make nZEBs even more successful than other models on the cost variable.
Panzeb also pictures the national real estate by identifying a possible scenario for nZEBs in Italy, highlighting the many tools for promoting energy efficiency in construction at the national level and based on incentives (heat account, tax deductions for energy renewal of buildings, structural fundings 2014-2020); mapping national guidelines to increase their number through existing regulatory and financial instruments and reporting a framework of programs promoted by the Regions to boost nZEBs. Panzeb is an important point of reference for all those professionals or entrepreneurs who want to introduce zero-energy buildings to the market and it also stimulates considerable reflections on the implementation of nZEBs not only in Italy but also in countries with a typical Mediterranean climate.

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