This paper looks at the theory and practice in energy regulations for houses.

A drastic reduction of use of fossil fuels in the built environment is urgent. The energy saving potential of the building stock is considered to be large and it is seen as the most cost efficient sector to contribute to CO2 reductions. According to the regulations and policies of the European Union in 2020 only nearly zero energy buildings will be build and by 2050 a the whole building stock should be energy neutral. The current practice shows that the energy saving goals can only be reached by strict and supportive governmental policies. In Europe the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive are driving forces for EU Member States to develop and strengthen energy performance regulations both for newly built buildings (controlled via building approval procedures) as for the existing building stock (via energy performance certificates or labels).

This paper presents some insights in in the theory and the practice. Actual energy use deviates considerably from the required or modelled energy use. The performance of buildings and building services are not as expected and the behaviour of the occupants seems not well understood by the policymakers. This is concluded from on-going research. What could be alternative approaches for the current used governance approaches?

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