According to the Energy Performance of Building Directive, by 2021 all new housings have to be 'nearly zero energy buildings'. Currently, the definition and the resulting requirements for buildings are a subject of controversial political discussions in Germany. 

This paper aims to analyze the financial effects for owners and tenants resulting from the proposed ‘nearly zero energy standard’ by 2021.

The objective is achieved by investment calculations using the method of complete financial plans. The analyses of the economic effects rely on building energy efficiency calculations of well-known engineering consultancies for two representative Multi-family-houses that form the political debate. 

Our analysis shows that the specific valuation approach has a significant impact on the result. The discussed 'nearly zero energy’ standard seems to be efficient according to the federal Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV), but comes to high costs for owners or tenants. That is, because increasing standards of energy efficiency require higher investments, which are not compensated by the achieved reductions in energy consumption. Due to that, the discussed 'nearly zero energy’ standard leads to higher living expenses for tenants, or to lower returns on investment for owners. In addition to that, the stronger requirements result in GHG avoidance costs that are much higher compared to the ones in other sectors.

The study is limited in its results to the analyzed building types. Nevertheless, it is of political relevance by showing that further deviations must rely on various efficiency considerations if real estate actors shall not be overburden and the environmental law effective.