Energy Efficiency

The potential of energy-efficient buildings

Anthony Abbotts
Anthony Abbotts
July 3, 2019

Renovating buildings to be more energy efficient can help us fight climate change.

Large buildings being renovated with scaffold and cranes. Intelligent Quarters, Hamburg, Germany

Energy conservation methods are critical to combating the threat of climate change, and energy-efficient buildings have enormous potential as a solution to climate change.

“To be in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, final energy consumption per square metre needs to decrease by 30 percent by 2030 globally,” explained Oliver Rapf, Executive Director of the Buildings Performance Institute Europe. “Energy efficiency could achieve this target.”

Energy-efficiency in buildings

Indeed, building an energy-efficient home is among the most efficient measures in terms of CO2 efficiency. In fact, retrofitting existing buildings in Europe with energy-efficient insulation could save 660 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is twice as much as France emits in a year1.

Insulation acts as an effective energy storage system, it can reduce the demand for heating and cooling by offering better temperature maintenance in buildings. At the same time, this provides us with more comfortable living spaces as people thrive in more optimum indoor climates.

What’s more, as energy efficiency measures reduce overall demand for fossil fuels, renewable sources can account for a greater share in our overall consumption3. For example, increased energy efficiency in the United States could lead to an additional eight percent renewable energy share by 2030 on top of what is currently considered to be feasible. In India, this grows to 12 percent2.

The positive economic impact in facilitating energy efficiency through building renovation is also quite remarkable. In EU heating and cooling can amount to 16% of EU consumers’ bills, renovation and insulating properly can save up to 70% of heating needs having a huge impact on peoples ability to live a decent life3.

As demand for energy continues to grow, we need to seriously consider energy efficiency when we discuss solutions to climate change. The huge difference that energy-efficient buildings can create in terms of climate action offers us the opportunity to make significant, positive contributions by renovating our homes.

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1. Internal calculation based on following sources: (1) BPIE, “Europe’s buildings under the microscope - A country-by-country review of the energy performance of buildings”; (2) European Commission, Joint Research Centre: EDGAR - Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, "CO2 time series 1990-2015 per region/country “ (2017)

2. IRENA, “Synergies between renewable energy and energy efficiency”, August 2017

3. DG_Energy_Infographic_heatingandcolling2016_0.jpg (