IEA unveils new initiatives on sustainable energy policies and technologies in the buildings sector

16 March 2012

Cutting back on the amount of energy consumed in buildings all over the world will represent a significant step forward in efforts to strengthen energy security and combat climate change, International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said as she announced new IEA initiatives on sustainable energy policies and technologies in the buildings sector.

In 2008, the buildings sector represented around 40% of the total primary energy consumption in most IEA countries. This percentage is set to rise in the coming years as:

  • the global population continues to increase;
  • emerging economies continue to develop;
  • climate change leads to greater demand for cooling buildings in warm climates; and
  • rising personal wealth pushes consumer demand for appliances even higher.

“The IEA believes that it is crucial to reduce the energy demand of the buildings sector by making buildings much more energy efficient,” Ms. Van der Hoeven told a workshop organised by the IEA and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). “Energy efficiency policies for buildings should be based on a long-term strategy with ambitious targets for consumption reduction in both new and existing buildings.”

The IEA-WBCSD workshop, “The Bumpy Road to Effective Implementation of Buildings Energy Efficiency Policies,” aims to share best practices on overcoming barriers facing local authorities in effective implementation of buildings energy efficiency policies, such as lack of enforcement and monitoring.

Increasing co-operation

At the workshop, which took place on 16 March in Paris and was attended by 120 experts, the IEA and WBCSD formally agreed to strengthen their collaboration in a broad range of areas relating to sustainable energy policies and technologies. These include energy policies in the buildings sector, transport and renewable sectors, and policies and measures that address climate change.

The joint work will include reviewing and analysing energy policies and issues as well as exchanging policy, technical and research information.

A Memorandum of Understanding, which provides a framework for this co-operation, was signed by Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the IEA, and Peter Bakker, President of WBCSD.

One-stop shop

At the workshop, the IEA’s Executive Director also launched the Building Energy Efficiency Policies (BEEP) database, developed by the IEA. This will act as a global one-stop shop for buildings energy efficiency policies.

Policy makers, industry and researchers worldwide will be able to access this database and look at effective policies which are being implemented. These policies include:

  • Buildings Energy Codes, including minimum energy performance requirements that focus on achieving Zero Energy Buildings;
  • Buildings Energy Labels which increase awareness about energy consumption in the buildings sector; and
  • Incentives schemes for capacity building, technical assistance and raising awareness.

The database is a collaborative effort between the IEA secretariat, governmental representatives, researchers and experts from the participating countries. So far, the database includes information from all IEA member countries as well as China, India, Tunisia, South Africa and Russia. The IEA secretariat welcomes all countries over the world to submit information on their buildings energy efficiency policies to be included in the database. All interested parties should contact the IEA at

What is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development?
The WBCSD is a Chief Executive Officer-led organisation of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.

What is energy efficiency?
Something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input. For example, when a compact florescent light (CFL) bulb uses less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light, the CFL is considered to be more energy efficient.

What does Zero Energy Building (ZEB) mean?
Although this is not yet a standardised definition, there is a common agreement on the fact that a Zero Energy Building should refer to a building with very low energy demand, and that the energy consumed is primarily supplied by renewable sources.

Photo: Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the IEA, with Peter Bakker, President of WBCSD.