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Portuguese regulatory framework

The first Portuguese regulations in the building industry

In 1990, Portugal introduced its first regulations on the energy performance of buildings.

Decree-Law 40/90: this decree-law gave birth to the RCCTE. The regulations highlight thermal comfort within buildings, which has to be satisfied without excessive energy expenditure for households. Buildings must also be designed and built in such a way as to avoid the formation of condensation. The decree divides the country into three climatic zones for winter and three climatic zones for summer. For each municipality, a series of parameters have been defined: degree days during the heating period ; duration of the heating period; maximum outdoor temperature in summer; thermal amplitude. This data will be useful when designing a passive-bioclimatic construction project.


In 1998, Decree Law 119/98 came into force, implementing a new Regulation on Energy and Air Conditioning Systems (RSECE).

Following Community Directive 2002/91/EC of 2002, Portugal updated in 2006 the first two decrees mentioned above and implemented a new decree.

  • Decree-Law 78/2006 of 4 April 2006. It consists of the implementation of a National Energy Certification and Indoor Air Quality System for Buildings.
  • Decree Law 79/2006 which replaces the 1998 Decree Law (RSECE). It sets out the conditions that any new air conditioning project has to meet. In particular, it sets maximum energy consumption limits and handling conditions for air conditioning systems.
  • Decree Law 80/2006 which replaces the Decree Law of 1990.

To go further, in 2008 Portugal implemented a National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (PNAEE 2015). The objective of this plan is to promote Energy Efficiency in 4 areas including the residential sector.

Decree-Law 41/94 of 11 February (adaptation of Community Directive 92/75/EEC) defines the energy efficiency of household appliances and their labelling. A specific DL details the requirements for each category of household appliance.

More recent regulations in the energy performance of buildings 

One of the key measures that could mark an important milestone in construction is the adaptation of the 2010 European Directive 2010/31/EU on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD).

Each EU Member State must adapt the definition of NZEBs to the reality of its country and the levels that are achievable. Portugal has already announced in 2013 its qualitative definition in Article 16 of Decree-Law 118/2013. However it has not yet presented its proposal in terms of “figures” to the European Union.

The objective of this DL is to improve the energy performance of buildings through the SCE, which consists of the REH (Regulamento de Desempenho Energético dos Edificios de Habitação) and the RECS (Regulamento de Desempenho Energético dos Edificios de Comércio e Serviços). Therefore, since December 1st, 2013, owners have to indicate the energy classification of the fraction in all advertisements published for sale or lease.