Energy Efficiency - Buildings Sector

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Technology Action Plan

Energy efficiency in the buildings sector offers more potential for cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions than any other major abatement category. In addition, investments in energy efficient buildings and appliances can create jobs and help to delay investments in costly new electricity generation technologies.

Patterns of energy use in buildings vary from one region to another, influenced by such factors as climate, economic development, regulation, available energy supplies, and culture. Thus, to establish effective policies and programs to increase building energy efficiency, governments and companies must adapt solutions to their respective cultures, economic structures, and energy systems. Developing countries in particular face distinct implementation challenges but they also can reap outsize benefits in terms of lower energy costs, less local pollution, and greater energy security, particularly in those countries experiencing rapid economic expansion.

Building energy performance is directly related to the design of the building envelope (insulation, roofing, windows, etc.) and the diverse systems and components within it, such as lighting, appliances, and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Many energy-efficient building technologies are widely available today and can reduce carbon emissions at a low or negative net cost. According to one estimate, available technologies could reduce projected energy use in buildings 41% by 2050, thereby avoiding 11.5 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2, or roughly 40% of current global fossil CO2 emissions (IEA 2009a).