The requirements for energy efficiency will change from the 1st of January 2023. As of 2023, the heat pump will be used as the benchmark heating system when drawing up the energy performance certificate for a new building. This change will therefore also affect the approval of building permits and thus the overall design of the building.
Heat pumps are currently the most significant means of decarbonising heat production in buildings. They are already the preferred heating system in numerous new buildings. From January 2023 onwards, the heat pump will become the benchmark heating system when drawing up the energy pass for a new building.
The legal definition of benchmark heating implies that only a heat pump (or another system that meets these thresholds) may be installed in a new building in order not to exceed the values required to obtain a building permit.
The energy class and the reference building
In order to calculate the energy class of a building for the purpose of obtaining a building permit for a new construction, the primary energy class (QP) and the thermal insulation class (qH) of the house are assessed. These two values are included in the energy passport and are determined since 2017 by the reference building method.
This method consists of calculating a "virtual" copy of the planned building. This so-called reference building is identical to the "real" building in terms of shape, location and orientation. The difference with the real building is that the parameters of the "virtual" copy, also called "reference values", e.g. the U-value of the external wall or windows, but also the heating system, are fixed by law. The result is a "clone" of the planned building with only the defined benchmark values. When calculating the primary energy class (QP) and the thermal insulation class (qH) of the reference building, the value that the planned new building must achieve as a minimum is obtained. If these values exceed the reference values, i.e. if the energy performance of the project is of a lower class, the building will not be granted planning permission.