IEA offers a blueprint for a sustainable buildings sector by 2050

27 June 2013

The buildings sector is the largest user of energy in the global economy, responsible for more than one-third of all final energy and one-half of total electricity consumption worldwide. Many cost-effective options exist already that can make deep cuts in that consumption and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions – but only if policy makers, owners and builders know how best to employ them.

The new IEA publication Transition to Sustainable Buildings: Strategies and Opportunities to 2050  details the steps the sector can take to save 40 exajoules in 2050, the equivalent of all energy currently consumed by India and Russia combined. The solutions include readily available technologies such as energy efficient lighting, optimal levels of insulation, sealants, and energy efficient appliances and equipment.

Through stringent efficiency standards; promotion of heat pumps in lieu of electric resistance heating; and greater electricity co-generation with waste heat and renewables, electricity demand can be reduced by 2 000 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2050. This is approximately equal to half the current electricity consumption in the United States, or the entire electricity consumption of South America, Africa and the Middle East combined.

Transition to Sustainable Buildings also details policies for zero-energy and other advanced buildings that not only vastly reduce an economy’s energy consumption but also can help delay climate change. The study looks at existing, effective energy efficiency policies as well as proposes trends and priorities suited to the local economy and climate of specific countries, including Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and the United States.

Like Energy Technology Transitions for Industry and Transport, Energy and CO2, the other two end-use studies related to the IEA flagship technology publication Energy Technology Perspectives, Transition to Sustainable Buildings look at the role that technologies and policies can play in transforming the use of energy.

Transition to Sustainable Buildings is available for free download. To read the Executive Summary, please click here.

For more information and access to interactive graphics, please click here.

For more information about studies related to Energy Technology Perspectives, please click here