Buildings

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

Not on track

Emissions from buildings appear to have risen again in 2018 for the second year in a row, creeping above their 2013 level to an all-time high. This resulted from several factors, including extreme weather that raised energy demand for heating and cooling, which together represented one-fifth of the total global increase in final energy demand in 2018. Enormous potential remains untapped due to the widespread use of less-efficient technologies, a lack of effective policies and insufficient investment in sustainable buildings.

John Dulac
Lead author
Contributors: Thibaut Abergel, Chiara Delmastro

Buildings sector CO2 emissions

	Emissions
2000	7.651714845
2001	7.79680108
2002	7.91911979
2003	8.241507003
2004	8.436443729
2005	8.662139946
2006	8.726392463
2007	8.964946624
2008	9.054645546
2009	8.991329634
2010	9.135102031
2011	9.17082578
2012	9.287941862
2013	9.532713133
2014	9.541718576
2015	9.510780385
2016	9.488335734
2017	9.552827037
2018	9.639376059
2019	9.308769732
2020	8.978163404
2021	8.749757972
2022	8.474846242
2023	8.173012496
2024	7.858900338
2025	7.530872967
2026	7.224980394
2027	6.91006574
2028	6.571955431
2029	6.226062032
2030	5.861242403
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Back to TCEP overview 🕐 Last updated Monday, June 3, 2019

Tracking progress


Final energy use in buildings grew from 2 820 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2010 to around 3 060 Mtoe in 2018, while the share of fossil fuels decreased only slightly, from 38% in 2010 to 36% in 2018.

As a result, direct emissions from buildings increased to just over 3 GtCO2 in 2018, a slight rebound from just under 3 GtCO2 in previous years.

When indirect emissions from upstream power generation are considered, buildings were responsible for 28% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018. In absolute terms, buildings-related CO2 emissions rose for the second year in a row to an all-time high of 9.6 GtCO2.

This trend reversal since 2013 is due to a combination of factors. Whereas emissions fell after 2013 largely because of progress in reducing power generation carbon intensity, now demand for building energy services – particularly electricity for cooling, appliances and other plug loads, and connected devices – is growing at a faster pace than decarbonised power availability, which has led to a resurgence in buildings-related emissions.

Extreme heat in many parts of the world was responsible for a considerable portion of electricity demand growth in 2018.

Very high temperatures and prolonged heat waves set records in many countries, driving up demand for air conditioning. In Europe, the historical heat record was nearly broken in August as temperatures in parts of Spain and Portugal crept above 48°C. Tokyo had its highest-ever recorded temperature of 41°C in late July, and in South Korea as many as 29 people died from heatstroke after temperatures in Seoul hit a 111-year high. Beijing also broke a 50-year record in June.

Energy intensity

The speed of energy intensity reductions in the buildings sector has fallen in recent years, from around 2% in 2015 to an estimated low of 0.6% in 2018 – which is significantly less than the floor area increase of 2.5% from 2017 to 2018.

This is symptomatic of decelerating energy policy progress, demonstrating that the evolution of building energy codes in particular is not keeping up with rapid growth in emerging economies.

To get on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), annual drops in energy intensity per m2 globally need to return quickly to at least 2.5% – the rates of the early 2000s.

In some critical emerging markets, particularly in Africa, Latin America and Asia, the rate of change in buildings sector energy intensity needs to double (or more). A similar rate of change is required in major advanced economies, which need to significantly step up deep energy renovations of existing buildings.


Building sector energy intensity

Annual reductions in energy used per m2 in the buildings sector globally need to double from current rates.

	World	OECD Americas	OECD Europe	OECD Pacific	Eurasia	China	India	Other Asia	Latin America	Africa	Middle East
2000	100	100	100	100	100	100	100	100	100	100	100
2001	97.36	95.21	103.13	97.77	97.20	92.98	97.76	97.02	96.28	98.63	104.22
2002	95.19	96.46	99.01	98.94	92.27	88.38	95.94	95.95	95.74	96.95	104.98
2003	94.72	96.29	100.87	95.75	92.65	87.70	95.16	95.66	95.59	93.46	103.44
2004	93.48	93.30	100.44	95.26	89.70	88.33	93.40	95.58	95.48	92.82	105.99
2005	91.43	92.21	100.27	95.62	84.06	84.25	88.91	95.37	97.84	92.59	108.53
2006	88.92	86.62	98.48	91.27	84.74	83.66	81.81	94.25	97.28	90.95	111.94
2007	87.63	89.05	91.66	90.34	83.77	81.13	82.20	93.65	99.01	89.95	112.22
2008	86.20	88.12	94.86	86.58	82.00	76.31	83.13	91.72	96.04	88.88	105.55
2009	84.07	84.97	92.50	86.72	75.26	74.76	84.84	91.06	95.75	88.07	104.71
2010	83.18	84.90	96.74	87.81	70.82	71.65	82.94	89.86	96.44	85.91	100.32
2011	80.96	83.27	86.49	84.61	72.33	72.20	81.68	89.16	94.82	85.38	99.05
2012	79.16	76.98	88.37	83.84	68.11	72.60	78.60	90.14	95.61	84.90	94.52
2013	79.48	82.28	87.25	83.06	65.61	73.47	74.62	88.98	99.84	84.23	96.50
2014	77.31	82.31	77.36	79.41	66.15	73.51	67.92	87.84	100.94	83.55	97.22
2015	75.71	77.74	79.35	77.76	62.59	73.97	64.76	87.16	98.76	82.17	97.58
2016	74.74	75.73	78.91	78.11	62.89	74.09	62.64	85.51	98.27	80.61	96.26
2017	73.72	74.93	77.38	76.80	61.74	73.61	60.76	84.54	97.89	80.43	94.90
2018	73.30	74.29	75.95	76.00	60.96	73.41	63.37	83.11	97.95	80.54	94.65
2019	71.53	72.72	73.47	73.82	59.42	72.46	60.81	82.63	93.95	78.76	92.85
2020	69.81	71.12	71.45	71.86	57.89	71.43	58.14	80.47	92.21	77.52	91.27
2021	68.26	69.66	69.64	70.26	56.47	70.50	55.70	78.75	90.83	76.20	89.94
2022	66.63	68.15	67.85	68.65	55.04	69.38	53.03	76.88	89.26	74.82	88.59
2023	65.00	66.73	66.12	67.06	53.62	68.08	50.40	75.06	87.70	73.42	87.34
2024	63.42	65.28	64.39	65.50	52.24	66.88	47.92	73.26	86.12	71.95	86.83
2025	61.90	63.81	62.73	63.95	50.84	65.70	45.63	71.55	84.55	70.46	86.77
2026	60.38	62.36	61.16	62.41	49.44	64.49	43.50	69.96	82.99	68.94	85.69
2027	58.92	60.95	59.70	60.92	48.08	63.47	41.47	68.42	81.43	67.39	84.65
2028	57.47	59.51	58.26	59.47	46.75	62.31	39.59	66.96	79.86	65.86	83.42
2029	56.12	58.13	56.84	58.08	45.46	61.25	37.82	65.57	78.26	64.35	83.14
2030	54.78	56.73	55.51	56.72	44.26	60.03	36.14	64.16	76.66	62.83	83.14
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Policy coverage

Energy efficiency policy for buildings continued to progress in 2018, although at slower rate than in 2017, reflecting an overall slowing trend in energy efficiency policy globally. About 40% of energy use in buildings was covered by policies in 2018, only a slight improvement from the 38% coverage in 2017.

The slowdown is due in part to market changes, as growth in energy demand is shifting from China – where policy coverage improved substantially in the last two decades – to other emerging economies, where policies cover a smaller share of buildings energy use.

Lighting, which was the bright spot of energy policy improvement in the past decade, appears saturated at about three-quarters of energy use covered by energy efficiency policies in 2018.

While the major push to phase out incandescent lamps since 2008 has helped improve coverage, annual improvements in 2017 and 2018 were less impressive.

This reflects a worrying trend in overall buildings energy policy coverage, with annual rates of improvement diminishing from 5-8% in the 2000s to 2-3% in recent years.

Figures for policy coverage also do not indicate how stringent polices are, and many policies have not been updated to increase stringency. For example, lighting policies in many countries have not been updated to phase out halogen lamps.


Policy coverage of total final energy consumption in buildings

Global lighting coverage appears to be shrinking, and the overall rate of improvement in efficiency policies in buildings worldwide is diminishing.

	Lighting	Space cooling	Space heating	Water heating	Appliances	Total buildings
2000	3.083388759	29.27214468	28.15502647	18.75399234	10.27334579	16.57825473
2001	3.189085583	32.65089774	30.7172822	19.99998936	10.91688086	18.01469793
2002	3.465215354	37.35761784	32.16962594	21.25334917	11.81999521	18.99075645
2003	4.182273618	41.06578666	34.36989469	23.35507516	12.42350029	20.55007765
2004	4.946209332	44.61795718	35.51732637	24.7394666	13.25216041	21.39241838
2005	5.394130851	48.81352671	36.50838503	26.15925616	14.3765826	22.29401483
2006	8.826458371	52.080698	37.50951567	26.59331174	15.29346913	22.72986432
2007	17.5684455	54.45084696	38.880991	27.49980638	16.24468854	23.89535465
2008	18.2685625	54.91603667	40.98886762	28.71225674	17.01586229	24.95892042
2009	27.75533741	55.47070743	43.07732186	28.88780898	19.15575206	26.37557093
2010	37.35154029	58.98970271	45.18814978	30.03501743	20.42369904	28.21121607
2011	49.02026626	60.34605195	45.87460781	30.52615593	22.90209706	29.43610817
2012	61.86834517	61.49099576	46.91920783	31.6761481	25.24938899	31.49682218
2013	67.76688505	61.82166837	49.82682001	32.69825982	27.43791744	33.66508673
2014	72.58164875	62.82489164	49.89826773	33.83633343	29.11718889	34.47571803
2015	73.69938979	63.79447904	50.28479884	35.05238057	31.12531693	35.29383768
2016	75.11848803	65.33768115	51.17172657	36.92065011	32.44289705	36.48418301
2017	76	65.98287942	52.70196441	37.516354	35.01004844	38.36803251
2018	76	66.88218731	53.73178275	38.86285728	36.81187493	39.659862
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Investment

Unsurprisingly, given the lack of major policy progress and clear market signals, investments in sustainable buildings are insufficient.

Although largest energy efficiency expenditures are still in buildings, growth in incremental energy efficiency investments decreased by 3% in 2018, to USD 138 billion.


Effective policies are needed to address current market barriers. Multiple, cost-effective technologies, for high-efficiency lighting to low-cost building envelopes, can unleash major energy savings while also improving comfort and energy services in buildings. Building efficiency and demand side response also reduce the impact of rising electricity demand on the power sector.

Comprehensive policy packages are needed to group solutions under one umbrella. Pairing of traditional policy tools such as mandatory performance standards with more ambitious regulatory and financial incentives to engage the private sector can help bring multiple technical and market-based solutions for buildings together in arrangements such as one-stop shops and energy service companies. This would create a comprehensive framework to deliver cost-effective action tailored to specific building needs, using the most effective technology opportunities.

Set long-term commitments

Governments need to set clear, ambitious commitments to ensure long-term market signals.

Such commitments should put forward specific policy measures, such as building energy codes and mandatory performance standards for equipment to enable and encourage uptake of key energy technology solutions for buildings and to hasten the transition to clean energy and reduce the costs involved.

Support energy efficiency measures

Policies need to support energy efficiency measures to make them affordable.

Government support for product improvements and technological innovation can create economy-of-scale advantages and raise industry learning rates to deliver cost-effective efficiency mechanisms. Paired with market signals, including energy performance requirements, efficiency gains can be achieved with little increase to manufacturing costs or consumer prices.

Stimulate financing and market mechanisms

Financing and market mechanisms, as well as innovative business models, are required to accelerate the clean energy transition.

Governments can stimulate action through policy interventions that shape market rules to improve access to financing, de-risk clean energy investment and broaden the availability of market-based instruments that reduce barriers to the transition.

Enhance collaboration

Governments need to collaborate to make sustainable buildings a reality. Institutional capacity and global co-operation need to be expanded to enable the clean energy transition.

Governments can co‑operate to share knowledge, best practices and solutions through multiple initiatives such as the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes and the IEA Global Exchange for Energy Efficiency.

Buildings technologies


Only lighting and data centres are on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), while building envelopes and heating, inlcuding heat pumps, are well off track.

Cooling and appliances are both showing improvement, but significant policy effort will be needed to put these technologies on the SDS trajectory.


Building envelopes

Two-thirds of countries lacked mandatory building energy codes in 2018, meaning more than 3 billion m2 were built last year without mandatory performance requirements. To be in line with the SDS by 2030: all countries need to move towards mandatory building energy codes, high-performance new construction needs to increase from 250 million m2 to 4 billion m2, and deep energy efficiency renovation of existing stock needs to double to at least a 30-50% energy intensity improvement.

Estimated global buildings construction to 2030

To be in line with the SDS, high-performance envelopes need to become the global construction standard.

	nZEBs	Mandatory building energy code	Voluntary or without building energy code
2018	299.84	3755.62	3335.17
2025	2942.18	3128.66	1786.91
2030	4006.52	2474.42	1313.99
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Heating

Sales of heat pumps and renewable heating equipment such as solar hot water systems have continued to increase by around 5% per year since 2010, representing 10% of overall sales in 2018. Fossil fuel-based equipment, however, still makes up more than 50% of sales, while less-efficient, conventional electric heating equipment adds another 30%. To be in line with the SDS, the share of heat pumps and renewable heating needs to reach 25% of new sales by 2030.

Heating technology sales

Carbon-intensive and less-efficient heating technologies still represent the vast majority of heating sales globally.

	Renewables	District heat	Heat pumps	Conventional electric equipment	Fossil fuel equipment
2010	144955	352463	73391	676908	2058485
2011	157960	361794	81826	693358	2060352
2012	168046	368604	97590	720030	2081250
2013	192606	376856	102360	750983	2137516
2014	206295	382360	107510	778733	2208325
2015	214809	391946	114016	808070	2282411
2016	220850	407381	120363	844521	2333366
2017	227575	409252	126698	868416	2380136
2025	470796	530756	441114	1053850	2039797
2030	749850	678565	708184	1136546	1589313
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Note: excludes traditional use of biomass. 2018 estimated.

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Cooling

Cooling is the fastest-growing end use in buildings, as its energy demand more than tripled between 1990 and 2018 to around 2 000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. While much higher-efficiency air conditioners are currently available, most people purchase new air conditioners that are two to three times less efficient. To put cooling in line with the SDS, standards need to be put in place to improve performance by more than 50% by 2030. This will help cut energy use and emissions from space cooling and limit the capacity additions required to meet peak electricity demand.

Air conditioner seasonal energy performance to 2030

To be in line with the SDS, air conditioner performance needs to improve by more than 50% by 2030.

	Residential - in use	Residential - sales	Non-residential - in use	Non-residential - sales
1990	2.5	2.7	2.4	2.7
1991	2.6	2.9	2.4	2.7
1992	2.7	3.1	2.5	2.9
1993	2.7	3.2	2.6	2.9
1994	2.8	3.2	2.7	3
1995	2.9	3.2	2.7	3
1996	2.9	3.1	2.7	3
1997	3	3.1	2.8	3
1998	3	3.2	2.8	3.2
1999	3	3.3	2.8	3.1
2000	3.1	3.3	2.9	3.1
2001	3.1	3.3	2.9	3.1
2002	3.1	3.3	2.9	3.1
2003	3.1	3.3	3	3.2
2004	3.2	3.4	3	3.3
2005	3.2	3.6	3	3.4
2006	3.3	3.7	3.1	3.5
2007	3.3	3.8	3.1	3.6
2008	3.4	4	3.2	3.7
2009	3.5	4.1	3.3	3.8
2010	3.6	4.1	3.4	3.8
2011	3.6	4.2	3.4	3.9
2012	3.7	4.1	3.5	3.9
2013	3.8	4.1	3.5	4
2014	3.8	4.1	3.6	4.1
2015	3.9	4.2	3.7	4.2
2016	3.9	4.2	3.7	4.2
2017	4	4.1	3.8	4.2
2018e	4	4.2	3.9	4.3
2019	4.1	4.7	4	5
2020	4.2	4.8	4.1	5.2
2021	4.3	5	4.3	5.4
2022	4.4	5.1	4.4	5.7
2023	4.5	5.2	4.6	5.9
2024	4.6	5.4	4.8	6.1
2025	4.7	5.5	4.9	6.2
2026	4.8	5.6	5.1	6.4
2027	5	5.7	5.3	6.5
2028	5.1	5.8	5.4	6.7
2029	5.2	5.9	5.6	6.8
2030	5.3	6	5.7	6.9
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Lighting

In 2018, LED sales reached a critical milestone, achieving the same share of global residential sales as less-efficient fluorescent lamps (40%). LED deployment is also progressing for commercial lighting and outdoor applications, especially for linear LEDs to replace fluorescent lamps. As LED costs continue to fall, sales of LEDs are on track with the SDS, although continued robust growth is needed to make up over 90% of sales by 2030.

Lighting sales by type

LEDs have experienced strong growth in the last five years, and this remarkable trend must continue.

	LEDs	Fluorescents	Other
2010	0.690688105	34.61280451	64.69650739
2011	1.004630434	39.37415888	59.62121069
2012	2.164673975	40.51036133	57.32496469
2013	4.127005866	44.18449574	51.68849839
2014	7.585012225	50.12553362	42.28945416
2015	13.87565533	52.18759758	33.93674709
2016	25.43430602	50.44920078	24.1164932
2017	31.6271149	46.18019073	22.19269438
2018	40.40575877	41.78853767	17.80570356
2025	68.12166139	27.28750395	4.590834664
2030	80.14465501	19.65371644	0.201628549
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Appliances & equipment

Growth in energy use by household appliances shows no signs of decelerating, having reached more than 3 000 TWh in 2018, or nearly 15% of global final electricity demand. Only one-third of appliance energy use today is covered by mandatory performance standards, and coverage is poor in markets that are expected to grow rapidly in the next decade. Consumer electronics, connected devices and other small plug-loads, which are proliferating rapidly, continue to be unregulated in most countries. Expanded policy coverage and increased stringency are needed in all countries to get on track with the SDS.

Consumption by household appliances and plug loads by region

Energy consumption from household appliances and plug loads is expected to continue growing, especially outside the OECD.

	OECD	China	Other Asia	India	Rest of world
2000	1240.57	107.11	99.50	49.76	213.31
2001	1271.41	106.94	102.05	50.44	221.26
2002	1308.08	111.59	105.85	54.17	227.65
2003	1341.67	122.79	113.18	56.98	239.00
2004	1379.75	135.19	121.92	58.91	249.33
2005	1444.60	156.27	126.04	61.52	273.94
2006	1479.82	175.02	135.00	67.54	291.12
2007	1520.89	200.31	140.39	70.08	307.54
2008	1569.87	214.55	141.86	74.35	321.20
2009	1546.44	240.31	151.54	79.98	332.76
2010	1557.21	252.09	162.09	91.50	357.88
2011	1549.80	273.20	164.56	100.31	364.14
2012	1542.60	303.41	177.96	107.03	387.08
2013	1552.14	342.52	186.07	114.17	402.70
2014	1572.40	364.84	201.06	123.46	424.51
2015	1563.90	387.06	210.18	138.83	433.06
2016	1610.93	422.40	219.55	156.41	451.22
2017	1618.94	449.75	232.80	169.49	470.40
2018	1626.50	477.03	246.41	181.95	491.05
2025	1678.21	676.49	350.43	251.46	646.17
2030	1718.32	840.25	439.71	305.25	771.64
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Data centres and data transmission networks

As the world becomes increasingly digitalised, data centres and data transmission networks are emerging as an important source of energy demand, each accounting for about 1% of global electricity demand. Despite exponential growth in demand for these services, huge strides in energy efficiency have helped to limit electricity demand growth. Sustained efforts by the ICT industry to improve energy efficiency, as well as government policies to promote best practices, will be critical to keep energy demand in check over the coming decades.

Global trends in internet traffic, data centre workloads, and data centre energy use

Demand for data centres and network services is growing rapidly, but huge strides in energy efficiency have helped to limit electricity demand growth.

	Internet traffic	Data centre workloads	Data centre energy use
2015	100	100	100
2016	138	133	102
2017	182	168	102
2018	237	206	104
2019	312	239	101
2020	404	274	100
2021	519	313	100
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Additional resources