Energy Efficiency: Regionalized Regulations in Belgium


Published 12/02/2024




In Belgium, as in the other member states of the European Union, directives concerning the reduction of energy consumption must be transposed into national legislation. They impose minimum targets, but leave the means of achieving them to the member states. In Belgium, as energy efficiency is a regional responsibility, the European directive on the subject has been translated differently in the Flanders, Walloon and Brussels-Capital regions.

Whatever the nuances of energy efficiency regulations, the underlying challenge is to be able to measure, visualize, and optimize energy consumption in order to comply with the directives. Fundamentally, implementing smart software such as an EMOS can greatly facilitate the process.


A Specific Context that Determines Regulations in Belgium

Addressing the issue of energy efficiency regulation in Belgium requires a little understanding of the country's history. Independent since 1830, it is in fact a federal state made up of three very autonomous regions in terms of education, health, employment, housing and agriculture. In the fields associated with the fight against climate change - the environment, energy and transport - competences are largely in the hands of the regions, but are also partly in the hands of the federal state. The federal government is responsible for energy production (including offshore), major energy supply and storage infrastructures, energy transport, and energy pricing policy. But when it comes to energy efficiency management and measures to reduce and green energy consumption, the regions are in charge, except for the energy efficiency of federal buildings.

In response to the EU, the same subtleties apply. It is the federal state that assumes all the responsibilities of Belgium and its federated entities with regard to European and international law. Thus, it submitted its national energy-climate plan for the period 2021-2030 to the European Commission at the end of 2019. But for its drafting, the plan did mobilize the federal and regional ministers in charge of energy and climate.

As a result, in the plan we learn that to achieve the energy efficiency targets set by the EU for Belgium, each region must make a different contribution to the overall effort. Flanders, Walloon, and Brussels-Capital have each chosen their own means of action. These are sometimes aligned, but often different.


Regional Differences Concerning Energy Efficiency

As mentioned in the national energy-climate plan, each region has introduced a mandatory energy audit for large companies. Under Article 8 of the Energy Efficiency Directive, companies employing more than 250 people or with annual sales in excess of €50 million and annual balance sheet totals in excess of €43 million are required to carry out an energy audit, except those attesting to ISO 50001 or EN16001. Other measures are specific to each region.


Flanders has introduced taxable profit reductions for companies via an increased investment deduction for energy-saving investments. "Energy-saving investments eligible for an increased investment deduction include roof insulation, exterior wall insulation, floor insulation, double glazing, relighting, heat pumps, etc. The implementing provision is contained in Article 69 of the Income Tax Code and can be combined with energy bonuses granted through distribution network operators" (p.307 of the National Climate Energy Plan). For the 2019 tax year, this investment allowance was 13.5%, regardless of company size.


In Walloon, the measures taken by the region focus more on the energy renovation of the housing stock.


Finally, the Brussels-Capital region is undoubtedly the most committed and advanced in terms of energy efficiency. By 2050, the entire building stock in Brussels will have to be energy-efficient. This translates into very stringent requirements and ambitions for both residential and non-residential buildings. This is illustrated by the mandatory Local Action Plan for Energy Management (PLAGE).

Focus on the PLAGE

Reformed in 2018, this scheme made mandatory by the Brussels Code on Air, Climate and Energy Management (CoBrACE), obliges all players who own or rent more than 100,000 m2 in Brussels to declare their consumption with consumption reduction targets to be met.

Those who own or rent less can enter the scheme on a voluntary basis, but at the very least, it obliges all major occupiers, and therefore the main consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, to take action. With this regulation, Brussels takes the view that large tenants also have the means to make the effort to achieve their energy efficiency targets.

In concrete terms, based on an energy register of their buildings, the players concerned must define an action program to achieve a quantified energy consumption reduction target within 3 years. This target, expressed in kWhPE/year, is determined by Brussels Environment, taking into account actual consumption and use of the premises, and is set at the level of the building stock rather than on a building-by-building basis.

To complete each PLAGE, the occupants concerned must go through 4 phases:

The first is an identification phase lasting a maximum of 12 months, during which a PLAGE coordinator is appointed, trained and provided with all the information needed to identify the building stock.

This is followed by a programming phase lasting a maximum of 18 months for the first PLAGE, and 12 months thereafter. This phase is designed to establish the energy register, set up energy accounting for each building, and define a 3-year action plan to reduce the energy consumption of the building stock. This program is then submitted to a PLAGE auditor, who assesses its relevance and, where necessary, makes recommendations. Finally, the program must be communicated to Brussels Environment, which will officially notify the owner or occupier of the quantified energy consumption reduction target within 3 months of receiving the documents.

This is followed by a 36-month implementation phase. During this period, each major occupier is required to implement energy accounting and energy performance actions set out in their action plan. Obligated parties are also required to check with their PLAGE auditor that the actions they have taken are in line with the plan, and to make any necessary adjustments.

The last phase of the PLAGE process is the evaluation of results over a maximum period of 4 months, leading to a report submitted to the PLAGE reviewer and then to Brussels Environment. Once this evaluation has been sent, a new PLAGE cycle begins.

real estate energy costs

How has using an EMOS helped Cofinimmo reduce the energy intesity of their assets?


Belgian Regulations in Favor of Energy Management Systems

Belgium's objectives in general, and those of its three regions in particular, all require substantial efforts in terms of precise assessment of consumption and energy savings. To achieve them, the benefits of installing energy management and optimization systems is once again demonstrated. Implementing an EMOS makes it possible to measure energy consumption and flows very efficiently, to consolidate information on a platform, to make data more readable and, ultimately, to make the best decisions afterwards.

To meet the requirements of the PLAGE scheme, for example, an EMOS tool can enable a company's PLAGE coordinator to link the identification elements of its building stock. What's more, for the programming phase of the PLAGE, EMOS makes it possible to monitor site-by-site accounting, plan the performance forecast of your action plan and compare reality with forecasts. The planning module also enables you to check the conformity of actions undertaken.

Above all, an EMOS offers a modular, flexible approach for heterogeneous, multi-site organizations that need to manage different maturity levels.

Want to find out more about how EMOS can help you improve your energy efficiency?

Copy of plexus-blanc