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Going deep in energy consumption in buildings: how to achieve the best case scenario for deep savings in building energy consumption

  • Date:
  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
    Peter Graham
    Diana Ürge-Vorsatz
    Jens Laustsen
  • Publisher(s)/Producter(s):
    Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy (3CSEP)

The building sector has been identified as a sector with large potential for delivering energy savings and mitigation of GHG emissions. Yet it has been unclear what the specific role of building energy efficiency codes play in achieving these savings. Thererfore, between July 2011 and June 2012 the Global Buildings Performance Network, facilitated the development of scenarios for energy savings and GHG mitigation related to thermal energy efficiency in buildings and an international survey of the impact of policy best-practices. The scenarios produced support the view that building energy efficiency offers a greater potential for final energy savings than previous models. However the survey of the impact of best-practice policies in the field identified an alarming gap between the trajectory our current policy settings are taking us and the technically potential savings available with the application of state of the art policies and technologies. This paper presents the outcomes of this and more recent research on how to implement ‘the deep path’ scenario in USA, EU, China and India; the four regions representing about 65% of the energy savings potential of the building sector. 

Under the ‘deep’ scenario we estimate achieving global savings 3.2 Gt by 2050. Achieving this abatement potential requires today’s state of the art building energy performance codes and complimentary policies to be optimized in regional jurisdictions towards net zero energy targets for new buildings and deep renovation for existing buildings. This translates into a strategic definition of best-practice actions as being those that encourage adoption of policy frameworks for achieving these ambitious goals.

The ‘deep’ path can be realised by developing roadmaps for developing and implementing policy packages built around effectively enforced performance based building energy codes. Policy makers should be encouraged by the private-sector’s readiness to accept more stringent performance standards in the building sector. Finally, It is important to realize that our ability to achieve the significant energy and CO2 emission reductions becomes increasingly difficult and expensive if action is delayed. Immediate action and significant changes are required before 2020 to bring building thermal energy use to the predicted savings of the ‘deep’ scenario by 2030 and 2050. After 2020 the gap between the trajectory of current practices and the ‘deep’ scenario becomes increasingly difficult to bridge. The actions taken now and implemented the next ten years are therefore critical.

Policy Quality
Construction industry
Climate change mitigation
Energy consumption
Energy conservation
Building energy codes