Significant gains can be made in efforts to combat global warming by reducing
energy use and improving energy efficiency in buildings, according to a new
report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sustainable
Construction and Building Initiative (SBCI).
The right mix of appropriate government regulation, greater use of energy
saving technologies and behavioral change can substantially reduce carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions from the building sector, which accounts for 30 percent
to 40 percent of global energy use, according to the UNEP.
According to the report, Buildings and Climate Change: Status, Challenges and
Opportunities (announced on March 29), many opportunities exist for
governments, industry and consumers to take appropriate actions during the life
span of buildings that will help mitigate the impacts of global warming.
Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director, said:
"Energy efficiency, along with cleaner and renewable forms of energy
generation, is one of the pillars upon which a de-carbonized world will stand
or fall. The savings that can be made right now are potentially huge and the
costs to implement them relatively low if sufficient numbers of governments,
industries, businesses and consumers act."
Key Points from the Buildings and Climate Change Report
In the life time of an average building most energy is consumed, not for
construction, but during the period when the building is in use. That is, when
energy is being used for heating, cooling, lighting, cooking, ventilation and
Recognizing this, the report pushes for a greater use of existing technologies
like thermal insulation, solar shading and more efficient lighting and
electrical appliances, as well as the importance of educational and awareness
campaigns. Typically more than 80 percent of the total energy consumption takes
place during the use of buildings, and less than 20 percent during construction
of the same.
"To achieve improved energy efficiency in buildings you often do not need to
use advanced and expensive high-tech solutions, but simple solutions such as
smart design, flexible energy solutions and provision of appropriate
information to the building users," said Olivier Luneau, SBCI chairman and
director for sustainability at Lafarge.
"Simple solutions can include sun shading and natural ventilation, improved
insulation of the building envelope, use of recycled building materials,
adoption of the size and form of the building to its intended use etc," he
said. "Of course you can achieve even better results if more sustainable
construction system solutions are used, such as intelligent lighting and
ventilation systems, low temperature heating and cooling systems and energy
saving household appliances."
In addition to a greater use of relevant energy saving technologies, the report
stresses the importance of appropriate government policies on building codes,
energy pricing and financial incentives that encourage reductions in energy
It also emphasizes that the building sector stakeholders themselves, including
investors, architects, property developers, construction companies, tenants,
etc. need to understand and support, such policies in order for them to
function effectively. The report also notes that approaches to finding building
solutions will vary.
In developed countries the main challenge is to achieve emission reduction
among mostly existing buildings, and this can largely be done by reducing the
use of energy.
In other parts of the world, especially places like China where almost 2
billion square meters of new building space is added every year, the challenge
is to leapfrog directly to more energy efficient building solutions, the report
AplusA-online.de - Source: Environmental Protection