Tracking Progress: Building Envelopes

Building Enveloppe

A growing number of countries and local jurisdictions have adopted building energy codes, but two-thirds of countries still do not have mandatory energy codes for the entire buildings sector. Deep energy renovations of existing buildings also continue to fall short of needed progress. Efforts and investments need to scale up dramatically to improve average building envelope performance by 30% by 2025 to keep pace with floor area growth and demand for thermal comfort.

Recent trends

Global building envelope performance (in terms of useful energy per square metre [m2]) improved by roughly 1.4% per year since 2010. Yet it was outpaced by growth in total building floor area (more than 2.5% per year) and the increasing demand for greater thermal comfort, especially in developing countries. Over the next decade, more than 20% of expected global building additions to 2050 will be built, and more than 50% of those floor area additions will occur in regions that currently do not have mandatory energy codes in place for the entire buildings sector.

Concerted effort is needed to improve global building envelope performance, which has the most influence over heating and cooling needs in buildings. While progress is being made in many countries and municipalities, nearly two-thirds of countries still do not have mandatory energy codes that apply to the entire buildings sector. Enforcement is also a major issue in many countries to achieving high-performance building envelopes, while many existing building energy codes need to be updated or revised to narrow the gap between existing building practices and building envelope targets.

Advancement of deep energy renovations (e.g. 30% to 50% improvement in building envelope performance) of existing buildings also continues to be sluggish, particularly in OECD countries. The buildings sector comprised roughly 230 billion m2in 2015, the majority of which will still be standing in 2050. Improvement measures typically pursued today (e.g. window replacements and modest levels of insulation) are a missed opportunity to achieve deep energy savings with cost-effective investments. The rate of annual building energy renovations also needs to improve considerably, from rates of 1% to 2% of existing stock per year today to more than 2% to 3% per year by 2025.

Tracking progress

Global progress in achieving high-efficiency new buildings is slow, particularly in non-OECD countries where the greatest floor area additions are expected to 2050. Much greater effort is needed to support adoption and enforcement of mandatory building energy codes in developing countries, starting first with rapidly emerging economies that risk locking in inefficient building envelope investments over the next decade.

Some notable advancement in 2015 and 2016 includes the ongoing development of building energy codes in several sub-Saharan African countries. Progress in India has also been made to shift from a voluntary national code to locally adopted mandatory codes for non-residential buildings in most Indian states.

Additional progress includes introduction of a low-carbon building label in France in 2016 as well as the introduction of building energy performance certificates in Russia and South Africa. As of 2016, nearly 40 countries had mandatory certification programmes, and as many as 80 countries had voluntary programmes.

Recommended actions

Clear and consistent signals on building energy performance, along with improved access to finance for high-performance building envelope construction and renovations, are needed to move markets to energy-efficient and low-carbon building envelope investments. Significant effort is needed to quickly adopt and enforce aggressive building energy codes and performance standards in line with 2DS ambitions across all countries. Additional effort is also needed to update many existing building energy codes (both voluntary and mandatory).

Policy makers should also support development and demonstration of advanced and integrated envelope solutions and building practices. Co‑operation among governments, especially on harmonisation and improvement of building energy performance standards, can help to provide an assertive signal to markets in line with 2DS building envelope expectations.




Published: 16 May 2017

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