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New guidelines on energy efficiency standards pave the way for more sustainable buildings

In developed countries, buildings consume over 70% of the electrical power generated and 40% of primary energy, and are responsible for 40% of combustion-related CO2 emissions. Developing countries will need to accommodate an estimated 2.4 billion new urban residents by 2050, bringing significant increases in energy demands. Improving the energy performance of buildings is therefore a key sustainability challenge, but solutions are available to achieve climate neutrality in the building sector by 2050/2060.

New guidelines adopted by UNECE on 27 September 2017 will support the development of standards that will improve energy efficiency in buildings, supporting progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in key areas including sustainable energy, climate change mitigation, and sustainable urban development.

The Framework Guidelines on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings are a set of principles to improve sustainability in the conception, design, construction and maintenance of buildings. The principles reflect lessons learned and best practices from around the world and are intended to inform the development of standards to support planners, builders, and the entire building delivery and management chain in making buildings more energy-efficient.

The Framework outlines principles-based performance guidance for energy standards for buildings that, once incorporated into standards, will support holistically designed and operated high-performance buildings as part of an integrated sustainable energy system.

The Framework Guidelines will be implemented through broad and multistakeholder participation, coordinated through a range of platforms. A research consortium will bring together leading universities and research institutions.  Centers of Excellence will also be established to focus on policy, regulation, city planning, codes and standards, fostering sustainable practices required to make the energy transformation of buildings a reality.

The UNECE Joint Task Force on Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings will guide the implementation of the Framework Guidelines by bringing together policy makers, researchers, business communities and other stakeholders to identify existing gaps and promote best practices.

Scott Foster, Director of the UNECE Sustainable Energy Division, observed that "the concepts set forth in the Framework Guidelines go well beyond the incremental, components approach of existing building standards.  Rather, they represent a principles-based performance guidance for building energy standards that is outcome-based, anchored in energy actually consumed, and designed to project a vision of holistically designed and operated ultra-high-performance buildings as part of an integrated sustainable energy system. As buildings are responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions through the energy services they require, deploying these framework guidelines widely will contribute strongly to achieving the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement and to improving quality of life as sought in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

The Framework Guidelines are available in English, French and Russian at:

For more information, please contact Mr. Scott Foster, Director, UNECE Sustainable Energy Division at

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