Understanding the energy passport

Article updated in 2021

Compulsory since 2007 for any property sale or construction, the energy passport (energiepass) is a certificate that defines the energetic performance of a building. But how to establish one and understand it? Find out with this energetic answer from an expert.

Initially, the energy passport was introduced to meet the new European Union requirements. The underlying idea is to inform and educate consumers, in order improve the energetic performance of buildings – representing more than 40% of the total energy consumption in the EU.

The energy passport is a qualitative label allowing you to easily compare the energetic performance of different buildings, without necessarily being an expert.

Luxembourg decided to go even further than the European requirements. Since 2017, new houses and apartments need to be built in accordance to the most strict energy class, called “triple A”. In essence, this insures that all new constructions are either “passive”, or with very low energy consumption. This measure positions the country as a forerunner in Europe regarding the limitation of buildings’ ecological footprint. But let’s get back to the passport, and what impact it has on you when you want to buy, sell or rent a property.

When should you establish an energy passport?

The passport is a legal obligation. It is important to know the situations in which it must imperatively be established:

  • For all new constructions, including extensions of more than 80m2, or any substantial transformation
  • In the case of a change in owner or tenant if the building does not yet have a passport
  • In case of technical modifications, if these modifications exceed 1 500€ for a single-family home or 3 000€ for a multi-family home.

When you are in the process of selling, it is often a smart idea to establish a new passport, even if you already have a valid document. If you have made some changes to the property in the meantime (double-glazing, new heater etc.), you may benefit from a better rating which will increase your sale potential. This should largely compensate the price of a new passport, usually situated between 500 and 1000€. Once established, the passport is valid for a duration of 10 years.

It should be noted that the passport is valid on the whole building. This means that for an apartment block, each individual apartment does not require one. When needed, simply ask your syndic to hand you a valid original copy of the passport.

What does the process involve?

Many companies are present on the market, with various pricing policies and services. Some even have complementary services (thermal bridge detection, insulation damage identification, structural control of the building etc.). Ask for several quotes, but always make sure that these companies hold an expert identification number. This ensures the conformity of the delivered passport.

To establish a passport, some information will have to be communicated to the chosen company: address of the building, construction year, type and year of the heating, type of hot water supply. Some complementary documents will also be asked: breakdown of the annual charges, energy and water bills, property floorplans. To save time, try to gather the documents before the appointment.

Once the company has all the documents and has finished recording different on-site measurements, it will take up to a week to receive the final result.

Understanding the result

The main result that should be understood is the energy output index. It calculates the required energy to maintain the building, and uses a predefined calculating method determined by law. The result is expressed using a letter classification system, similarly to electronic appliances, ranging from A to I.

The passport also determines the thermal isolation index. It calculates the building’s need in heating, and is expressed using the same letter classification system. Here, the quality of the building envelope is taken in account: walls, ceilings, windows and roof.

Other information is also available in the passport: detail of the building’s energy requirements, CO2 emissions, and recommendations in regards to energy optimization (and related estimated costs).

That’s it, now you know everything about the energy passport!