Green Leases In Belgium

For many years, environmental questions have been central societal concerns. Consequently, increasing attention is paid to energy consumption in general. The real estate sector has not escaped this trend. Indeed, residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of the European Union's total energy consumption. Moreover, as the real estate sector is expanding, particular attention has been paid these past few years to means of reducing energy consumption in the sector and promoting the use of energy produced from renewable sources.

In order to achieve these goals and allow the European Union to conform to the Kyoto Protocol, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted on 19 May 2010 a new directive on the energy performance of buildings. This directive reiterates the obligation for the Member States to put in place a certification system for the energy performance of buildings and to provide such a certificate upon the sale or lease of the building. It also requires all new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities to be nearly-zero energy buildings by 31 December 2018. This deadline is extended to 31 December 2020 for other buildings.

Alongside these legislative initiatives at the Community level, various private initiatives have been taken in the construction sector over the past few years in order to encourage property developers and building owners to take into consideration the environmental impact of future buildings. In this context, various environmental certification programmes for buildings have been introduced in Belgium (mainly Valideo, BREEAM and HQE) for the purpose of measuring and objectively publicising the "sustainability" of buildings.

However, energy performance certificates and environmental certification programmes for buildings are primarily concerned with a fixed point in time (even though, for certification purposes, the future use of the building is taken into account, to a certain extent). The effectiveness of these instruments can thus be diminished when the occupant of the building does not use it in an environmentally responsible manner and fails to respect its specificity. An owner which has obtained environmental certification for a new building must thus impose on the occupant(s) certain standards of use in order to ensure that the sustainability objectives are met in the long term. Likewise, it makes no sense to acquire a building whose energy certificate indicates...

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