Typical renovation rates are 1-2% of the building stock per year, with an average energy use intensity (EUI) reduction of less than 15%. However, to reach sustainable development and climate targets, EUI reductions should be between 30-50%.
To achieve this, energy codes require intensification of measures to strengthen energy reduction while not raising resultant emissions, policy development on energy retrofits need to deepen, and the adoption of high performance, Net Zero buildings needs to be accelerated. In addition, access to financing from government to project teams and investments in R&D to enhance building technologies and materials is required.
Throughout North America, model energy codes are evolving for higher energy efficiency. Local code adoption and policy development have also strengthened their position to increase energy reduction targets with the inclusion of building retrofit requirements. For example, in 2019 New York City passed the Climate Mobilization Act, housing a series of bills setting specific retrofit requirements and emissions limits (Bill 1253, Local Law 97 of 2019) and supplementary financing for sustainable retrofits (Bill 12520).
In addition to energy and emissions conservations, building retrofits improve occupant health and comfort. In many cases, existing buildings are poorly insulated and leaky, resulting in excess heat loss and reduced thermal comfort. Mechanical systems are oftentimes outdated and inefficient, requiring consistent maintenance. With spending most of our times indoors, improvement of indoor health and comfort can be a priceless attribute that can be a key driver for building renewal investment.