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High Performance Buildings and Climate


Buildings consume over 70% of electric power generated and 40% of primary energy and the energy services they require are responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions.

High performance buildings can thus deliver on the climate challenge by reducing the energy requirements of buildings to a point at which residual needs can be met by no or low-carbon energy sources. A typical building in New York City consumes 490 kWh / m2 per year, whereas application of UNECE’s Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings can bring that figure down to 90 kWh / m2 per year.

Unlocking the potential of buildings for climate solutions

Architects, building contractors, and engineers deliver building envelopes – getting the materials and design right and then ensuring perfect construction techniques. Systems professionals deliver heating, ventilation, and air conditioning as well as plug-in loads.

Energy suppliers can offer no- or low-carbon solutions to meet the systems’ needs, either on-site through roof-top solar or on-site storage, for example, or through network connection.  A fourth community delivers the information and communications technology (ICT) that connects a building to its built environment.  

UNECE Framework Guidelines help to make buildings more energy efficient worldwide

Rather than addressing efficiency or quality on a component-by-component basis, UNECE’s Framework Guidelines deal with buildings as complex systems that are embedded in a community within a city that is part of larger network.

ICT connects all the parts and allows for system-wide optimization that enables full participation by both consumers and intermittent energy resources. 

Getting each of the four communities to act together enables an integrated approach, unlocking the potential of buildings to contribute climate solutions.

The guidelines apply across the globe and are being implemented through a network of partners in cities and universities.  More information about UNECE’s High Performance Buildings Initiative can be found here.