Buildings

The global buildings sector is responsible for 30% of final energy consumption and more than 55% of global electricity demand. Progress towards sustainable buildings is advancing, but improvements are still not keeping up with a growing buildings sector and rising demand for energy services.

The buildings and buildings construction sectors combined are responsible for 36% of global final energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. Energy demand from buildings and buildings construction continues to rise, driven by improved access to energy in developing countries, greater ownership and use of energy-consuming devices, and rapid growth in global buildings floor area, at nearly 3% per year.

This growth overwhelms the improvements in global buildings final energy intensity per unit of floor area, which has only fallen by 1.3% per year. As a result, in recent years:

  • Global use of energy in buildings has grown by 1% per year
  • Global use of electricity in buildings has grown by 2.5% per year
  • Global buildings-related CO2 emissions continue to rise by nearly 1% per year
	Energy consumption
Transport	28
Buildings	30
Construction industry	6
Other industry	31
Other	5
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Source: Energy Technology Perspectives 2017

Publications

The Future of Cooling

Published: 15 May 2018

The use of energy for space cooling is growing faster than for any other end use in buildings, more than tripling between 1990 and 2016. Space cooling – typically by means of an electric-powered fan or air conditioning (AC) system – is contributing increasingly to global energy demand. Global sales of ACs have been growing steadily and significantly: since 1990, annual sales of ACs more than tripled to 135 million units.

Transition to Sustainable Buildings: Strategies and Opportunities to 2050

Published: 6 June 2013

Detailed scenarios and strategies that demonstrate how to reach deep energy and emissions reduction through a combination of best available technologies and intelligent public policy.

Building Energy Performance Metrics

Published: 23 November 2015

This International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) report supports energy efficiency in major economies by providing the metrics data needed to gauge progress and identify opportunities for improvement in building energy performance.

Energy Efficiency 2017

Published: 5 October 2017

The key global tracker of energy efficiency trends, policies and markets, the 2017 report includes a focus on energy efficiency within the industry sector.

Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2017

Published: 16 May 2017

The annual Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP) report highlights the overall status and recent progress in developing and deploying key clean-energy technologies. The report brings together broad IEA expertise, integrating the analysis from the Energy Technology Perspectives as well as the Market Report Series.

For more information, please visit our Interactive Dashboards.

Collaboration

The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection.

The IEA's buildings TCPs are co-ordinated by the Technology Collaboration Programme Building Co-ordination Group. Find out more about individual programmes below.

Technology Roadmaps

The IEA has developed and regularly updates a series of global, low-carbon energy technology roadmaps which identify priority actions for governments, industry, financial partners and civil society that will advance technology development and uptake to achieve international climate change goals.

Browse all Technology Roadmaps >

Technology Roadmap: Energy Efficient Building Envelopes

Published: 13 December 2013

Overall, buildings are responsible for more than one-third of global energy consumption. While whole-building approaches are ideal, every day building envelope components are upgraded or replaced using technologies that are less efficient than the best options available. These advanced options, which are the primary focus of this roadmap, are needed not only to support whole-building approaches but also to improve the energy efficiency of individual components.

Technology Roadmap: Energy Efficient Buildings - Heating and Cooling Equipment

Published: 16 May 2011

The Energy-Efficient Buildings: Heating and Cooling Equipment Roadmap sets out a detailed pathway for the evolution and deployment of the key underlying technologies. It finds that urgent action is required if the building stock of the future is to consume less energy and result in lower CO2 emissions. The roadmap concludes with a set of near-term actions that stakeholders will need to take to achieve the roadmap’s vision.

Policy briefs

Policy Pathways Brief: Building Energy Performance Certification

Published: 12 April 2017

Buildings consume more than 40% of primary energy in most countries. Cost-effective policy intervention by governments can substantially reduce this consumption, typically by 30-80%, while simultaneously increasing energy security and improving the health and welfare of building occupants.

The International Energy Agency has identified five critical factors to guide policy makers in realising potential savings by certifying the energy performance of buildings to enable informed decisions by purchasers and occupiers.

Read the full Policy Pathways report here: Policy Pathways Brief: Building Energy Performance Certification

Policy Pathways Brief: Monitoring, Verification and Enforcement

Published: 12 April 2017

Most countries deploy minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and/or energy labelling to cost effective manage the energy consumption of products. However, failure to monitor, verify and enforce these standards and labels has the potential to fatally undermine their effectiveness in delivering cost reductions to consumers, fair competition for industry and increased national energy security.

The International Energy Agency has identified five critical factors that guide policy makers towards protecting the integrity of standards and labelling programmes and delivering the expected stakeholder benefits.

Download the full Policy Pathway report here: Policy Pathways: Monitoring, Verification and Enforcement

Insights Brief: Space Cooling

Published: 7 September 2017

By understanding why increasing energy consumption for space cooling is a growing concern, we can properly develop effective policies and deliver efficient technologies.

The choice of energy efficiency policies and technologies to address space cooling demand should be made using life-cycle calculations that account for the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. Policies and technologies should enable greater increased thermal comfort while reducing the total energy consumed.

Our work on Energy efficiency