Holistic Approach

What’s the holistic approach?

The holistic or systemic approach implies that all types of building related energy uses (heating, lighting, cooling, air conditioning, ventilation) and outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as indoor climate requirements are considered. The overall energy performance of a building or of a cluster of buildings may be strongly influenced by the sometimes complex and dynamic interactions between these various aspects.

The holistic approach is a key instrument to set and evaluate policy targets. Clear and consistent policy targets play an important role in driving innovation in the building sector.

The set of EPB Standards

take into account: and include:
indoor climate needs
building fabric (walls, windows, etc.) use
thermal properties calculation
solar properties measurement
thermal mass inspection
systems for: building design
heating new & existing buildings
cooling and air conditioning certification/labelling
domestic hot water simple & complex buildings
building automation and control (BAC/BMS)  
renewable energy sources  

Why a holistic approach?

In the past, energy performance requirements were set at component level – minimum thermal insulation levels and minimum efficiencies of products. This, however, leads to sub-optimal solutions and creates a barrier to the necessary technology transitions.

The holistic approach to assessing the overall energy performance of buildings and the built environment is a key tool to overcome these barriers.

The set of EPB standards enable to assess the overall energy performance of a building. This holistic approach implies that that any combination of technologies can be used to reach the intended energy performance level, at the lowest cost.


Due to this 'competition' between different technologies, the holistic approach is a key driver for technological innovation and change. Countries using the approach for several years – take, for instance, the Netherlands – have experienced large scale implementation and cost savings on a variety of new technologies.

The modular structure of the set of EPB standards furthermore facilitates the future integration of specific procedures for new technologies.

International standards in general are a valuable tool for facilitating cross-border trade and knowledge exchange, thus stimulating the implementation of novel technologies.
In addition, for not yet proven/emerging new technologies, many countries apply the so called “Principle of equivalence”: the possibility of alternative ways to assess the impact on the overall energy performance in case of novel technologies are not yet covered by the standard calculation procedures.

Read more: