Energy efficiency remains a challenge for countries in the UNECE region. Existing technologies can reduce energy consumption by 30 to 50 percent in buildings without significantly increasing investment costs. Moreover, improving the energy performance of a residential building goes hand-in-hand with increased living comfort and reduced energy bills. Energy efficiency also contributes to alleviating fuel poverty and mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions while creating jobs.
The UNECE study “Mapping of energy efficiency standards in buildings in the UNECE region” was launched at the Workshop on Energy Efficiency in Buildings – fourth meeting of the UNECE Joint Task Force on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings (JTF) held in Kiev on 13 November 2018 in the framework of the Ninth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development. The study indicated that some countries apply building energy codes only to specific types of buildings, and pointed to a large variance in Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) implementation across UNECE member States and highlighted a lack of data in the field of energy performance measurement (e.g., the difference between energy use predicted in the design stage of buildings and the actual energy use of those buildings when in operation). Closing the energy performance gap is set to become an increasingly important issue over the next decade if countries are to deliver on climate and environmental targets related to buildings.
The study provided a preliminary analysis of energy efficient technology deployment in the region and served as a basis for another important report now being prepared in the framework of the JTF - “Mapping of technologies to enhance energy efficiency in buildings in the UNECE region”. Preliminary findings of this latter report show that countries that have achieved significant progress in energy efficiency technology deployment have done so through a comprehensive and consistent policy approach to developing and implementing building standards.
During the workshop, participants also discussed the Framework Guidelines on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings endorsed by the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy and the Committee on Housing and Land Management in 2017. This principles-based document reflects lessons learned and best practices coming from building owners, designers, engineers, builders, managers, and policy makers and provides a holistic and life-cycle approach to buildings. UNECE has launched its High Performance Buildings Initiative, comprising a Global Building Network and International Centres of Excellence on High Performance Buildings, as a practical way to deploy the Framework Guidelines in the UNECE region and globally. Finally, during the workshop, preliminary approaches for the study “Compendium of best practices on standards and technologies for energy efficiency in buildings” and the progress in the development of an online database of experts on energy efficiency in buildings were presented.
Improving energy efficiency in buildings is key to achieving the objectives of the 2030 Agenda but remains a challenge in the UNECE region. Panellists and participants agreed that there is a fundamental need to look at the building industry from a holistic and integrated perspective to ensure it becomes decent, adequate, affordable and healthy in the spirit of the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing.