Developers have been given an additional two years’ reprieve to meet nearly-zero requirements

It has been known within the construction industry since 2014 that from 2021 on obtaining a building permit and occupancy permit will be only possible for ‘nearly zero-energy buildings’ (NZEBs). Nearly zero-energy buildings and energy efficient buildings are becoming more and more popular as the climate and energy crisis increasingly drives the need for them. However, the latest Hungarian legislative change ignores the energy efficiency aspect and allows less energy efficient residential and other buildings to obtain the entry into use until June 2024. Owners who have not built to nearly zero-energy requirements will certainly benefit; many investments are now more likely to be completed even at increased cost.

BM Decree 20/2014 (7.III.) of the Minister of the Interior, based on Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings, has tightened the energy efficiency requirements. The Directive promoted the improvement of the energy performance of buildings within the European Union, taking into account outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as indoor climate requirements and cost-effectiveness. The Hungarian Decree of the Minister of the Interior adopted these objectives into the Hungarian legal system.

From 2021 only buildings with nearly zero-energy requirements could have been granted an occupancy permit. Developers have therefore had more than 8 years to comply with these energy requirements, but unfortunately even in the most recent times there have been some plans that did not take this into account. Therefore, the deadline for compliance with the NZEB requirement has been extended several times, until just recently it was 30 June 2022.

Government Decree 315/2022 (VIII.16.) entered into force on 17 August 2022 modified the previous regulation. Accordingly, residential buildings with a simple registration of property will only have to comply with the nearly zero or better energy standards from 30 June 2024. It is very likely that the legislator considered the projects that were interrupted or could not be completed because of energy requirements and decided that intervention in this area was necessary.

It is not only residential buildings: the deadline for buildings that require a building permit has also been extended, so from 17 August 2022, residential complexes and industrial buildings will also be able to obtain an authorisation of use that are substandard in relation to the NZEB requirements. However, the developer can also opt for nearly zero or better energy standards.

The modification also means that energy efficiency will not be a priority for construction works started in 2022. Even for investments started this year, the stricter energy aspects, i.e. the NZEB aspects can be ignored. However, those who do not meet the nearly zero-energy requirements will eventually regret not having built a more modern building. The logical approach for a developer who finds himself in a decision-making position with the deadline adjustment is to take into account not only the construction costs but also the expected running costs.

There are two significant differences between the current level of requirements and the latest nearly zero-energy requirements. The first is the requirement for the Aggregate Energy Performance (a quantified indicator of the energy use efficiency of a building) and the second is the requirement for the Specific Heat Loss Factor, both more stringent for NZEB.

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