The term ‘zero energy’ sounds contradictory. We need energy to produce materials, then construct, operate and renovate or demolish buildings. Once a building is occupied, we need energy for heating, cooling, hot water, cooking, and we use electricity for a myriad of other energy services. And there is a temporal dimension – to produce energy at the time when it is needed.
‘Zero energy’ in its current use does not mean ‘compensating all energy uses related to the building, over its entire lifecycle, at the time when energy is needed’.
The term works well as a commercial label. For regulation, it lacks precision.
Flash Eurobarometer 256 concluded that Europeans overwhelmingly consider the environmental performance of the products they buy. Consumers want ecolabels they can trust and support differential taxation based on environmental performance.
DG Environment has issued another Flash Eurobarometer 367 on the single market for green products in July 2013. This EB focussed more on price and choice architecture for consumers and confirms consumer interest in environmental performance as well as the importance of transparent labels.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is expanding its successful sustainable product policy into the broader theme of circular economy.