The social return on investment in the energy efficiency of buildings in Germany
The German government has developed a variety of policy instruments intended to reduce national CO2 emissions. These instruments include a programme administered by KfW bank, which aims at improving the energy efficiency of buildings. It provides attractive credit conditions or subsidies to finance refurbishment measures which improve the energy efficiency of buildings significantly. The refurbishment programme leads to a reduction in energy use, which benefits private investors by reducing their energy bills. In order to estimate whether the programme benefits society as a whole, additional effects must be taken into account, such as the amount of employment generated and the impact on the public budget. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the social benefits of the German CO2 refurbishment programme for the years 2005–2007. An extended input–output model is used to estimate the effect of the refurbishment works on public revenue via taxes and social security contributions. The value of avoided CO2 emissions is approximated using a range of marginal damage estimates from the literature. From these social benefits, the programme cost is deducted. The net social benefit thus computed turns out to be positive. This finding suggests that the refurbishment programme is a reasonable investment of public funds.